Coinciding with the March 2nd National Read Across America Day, Corvallis families with children under the age of 5 will be eligible to register for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The Imagination Library mails free, high-quality books to children from birth up until their fifth birthday. Each month, participating children receive a new, age-appropriate book, beginning with the children’s classic The Little Engine That Could. Children can receive up to 60 books over five years, ending with the aptly timed story ‘Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!’ Books are available in English and Spanish languages as well as Braille/Audiobook options.
Corvallis families are invited to enroll their child online at unitedwaylbl.org/imaginationlibrary or by calling the Corvallis-Benton Public Library at 541-766-6793. Once the registration is processed, books will be mailed monthly to the child’s home until their fifth birthday.
Thanks to a $55,000 grant from the Early Learning Hub of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties to support the region, Corvallis is now officially added and completes the three-county service area. “As a regional Early Learning Hub, it was important to our Governing Board that families in all of our communities throughout the region have access to this high-quality opportunity to have books delivered directly to their homes for their young children. With this grant we were able to support United Way in their efforts for full regional access” said Kristi Collins, Director at the Early Learning Hub of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties. Other funders that made the Corvallis launch possible include the Corvallis School District, Kiwanis Sunrisers Club of Corvallis, Corvallis Morning Rotary Club, and numerous donations from members of the community through the annual United Way campaign.
Initially launched in 2015 by United Way in Linn County, this early-learning program has already mailed more than 155,000 books to over 7,000 children across Linn, Lincoln, and rural Benton Counties. The United Way acts as the local fiscal agent for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and hosts online registration. “Within the next two years, we expect to have 1,100 Corvallis children registered,” said Blake Pang, CEO & President at United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties. “Over that period of time, we anticipate mailing more than 20,000 books to children here in Corvallis.”
Additional support for the multi-year collaborative effort comes from Samaritan Health Services, who help parents sign up through new baby care packages and select pediatric offices. The Corvallis School District and Corvallis-Benton County Public Library will encourage families to participate as well.
“We are so excited to get books into the hands of our youngest learners,” shared Amy Lesan, Elementary Teaching and Learning Coordinator for the Corvallis School District. “Early reading opportunities are a positive way for families to spend time together and to foster a love of learning for pre-kindergarteners. We are grateful for the work of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and look forward to making this book-gifting available in Corvallis.” Corvallis-Benton County Public Library Director Ashlee Chavez adds, “It is vital to have diverse, inclusive books in homes, and for children to feel ownership and pride in those books. Books from a public or school library are important, but the Imagination Library empowers our youth and encourages literacy skills by providing their own personal libraries.”