Young patrons of the Canyonville, Glendale, Myrtle Creek, Riddle and Winston libraries can now receive a free book each month thanks to a partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

According to Riddle Library volunteer Lisa Sabol, she learned about the program when she read an article in The News-Review last year about the program being implemented in Lane County.

“I am a longtime library supporter and volunteer, and I know that promoting literacy is one of the most important things libraries do,” Sabol said. “All the other library people I spoke with agreed that children here in Douglas County deserved to have access to the program, and eventually the five libraries in south Douglas County decided to collaborate to bring the program to our area.”

Founded by the musician in 1995, the Imagination Library is described as “a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.”

To enroll, children are required to live in a community that sponsors the program. With a bit of information — such as name, address and age — children receive an age-appropriate book mailed directly to them each month. Because the program targets early literacy, only children up to the age of 5 are eligible.

“We are pretty excited because it allows children that are 0 through 5 to get a free book a month until they turn 5,” said Myrtle Creek library volunteer Serena Theiss. “We have a large demographic of kids down here that can greatly benefit.”

The Myrtle Creek Library, which covers the biggest share of eligible children, currently has about 45 children already registered for the program.

Sabol said: “Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other professional evaluations of the Imagination Library program, have shown that the kind of shared storybook reading Imagination Library encourages in families with very young children unquestionably promotes early literacy and readiness for school, which in turn promotes success in later life.”

Books are targeted to the child’s age bracket. As Theiss explains it, a household with three children of different ages would receive three different age-appropriate books. According to the website, books are selected by “the esteemed Blue Ribbon Book Selection Committee, a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts” who review hundreds of Penguin Random House books for inclusion in the program.

The five local libraries are celebrating the new program with a series of open house events, where patrons can register and learn more. Some will receive a copy of one of this month’s books “The Little Engine That Could.” Registration will remain open after the events and is also available at www.imaginationlibrary.com.

“The response in our communities to this program has been really amazing — way more children than were predicted for our area have already registered — yeah!” Sabol said.

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at ewelch@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4218.

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Community Reporter

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of Roseburg High School, UCC and Western Oregon University. She can be reached at ewelch@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4218.

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