Ohio’s Imagination Library Boosts Literacy Development

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The newly launched Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is partnering with county-based Dolly Parton Imagination Library chapters statewide. The goal is to greatly expand the program that mails free books monthly to families with children up to age five.

Ohio first lady Fran DeWine and her husband, Gov. Mike DeWine, have made early childhood literacy a primary initiative. There are more 700,000 children under the age of five who reside in Ohio, but less than 100,000 are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley brought the Dolly Parton program to Mahoning County in 2014. Today almost half of eligible children and their families in the county participate, making it among the strongest Dolly Parton Imagination library chapters in Ohio.

To recognize this achievement, Kathy Mock, United Way director of education, and Erin Phemester, youth services director for the Mahoning County Public Library, were invited to a reception at the governor’s residence.

By 2021, the goal is to give access to the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to every age-eligible child in Ohio regardless of where they reside.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was founded in 1995 by the entertainer to deliver books to children in her home county in Tennessee. Today, the program delivers more than 1-million books monthly to children across the United States.

Studies document that children of participating families score higher on kindergarten literacy assessments than non-participants with the trend continuing into the third grade. 

For more information including enrollment details in Mahoning County, go to www.ymvunitedway.org/imagination-library.

Pictured at top: From left: Kathy Mock, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley director of education, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine, and Erin Phemester, Mahoning County Public Library Youth Services director.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.