The Imagination Library for the greater Kenai/Soldotna area is now up and kids that have registered are receiving their brand new books in the mail addressed to them personally, according to Sadie Updike, rural outreach support specialist with Thread, "Thread is an agency of the AK Child Care Resource & Referral Network known as the CCR&R, and the Imagination Library is one of our community projects," explained Updike. Thread's mission is to advance the quality of early education and child development by empowering parents, educating child care professionals, and collaborating with communities.
In 1996 Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library to guarantee access to books and to inspire parents to read to their children as much as possible. "Reading to your preschool age child is the single most important activity to prepare your child for school," says Updike, "Children registered for the Imagination Library receive one age appropriate book per month until their 5th birthday at no cost to the family, the only qualification is zip code and all of the zip codes in our immediate area are covered. We've already heard many success stories from kids receiving books now and as soon their book comes in the mail they want to read and have read it over and over even though they have only had it a few days. So far we have registered 188 kids in the Central Peninsula receiving books right now," said Updike.
According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University the early years of a child's life is when the most neural connections are formed. Their studies show that during the first three years of life a child will develop 700 new neural connections in just one second. Reading to a child is a proven way for a child and a parent to engage in a healthy and meaningful experience that will promote healthy brain development.
The local Imagination Library got its start from a Best Beginnings grant that Sadie wrote a year ago along with matching funds from local businesses and Rotary Clubs. The average cost of the books, labeling, and mailing is $30.00 per year per child and the local program is limited until further funding is secured. "To keep the program going we are going to need to do some fund raising, but it is a very low cost program. A complete library of 60 books is only $150 dollars. It's a big project to keep going and we are always looking for volunteers who are interested in early literacy and making a difference in the lives of the children of our community," added Updike. For more information about donating or volunteering for local Imagination Library contact Sadie Updike at Thread at 398-1750, call the local Imagination Library number at 260-3638. To learn more online you may visit www.bestbeginningsalaska.org.
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