Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam was in town Thursday promoting the Governor’s Books from Birth Program in conjunction with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The two have partnered to provide books to all preschoolers in the state.
After enrolling in the program, preschoolers will receive one age-appropriate book per month until age 5.
While the partnership covers more than half the cost of the books and the mailing, local sponsors make the free books a reality.
Haslam encouraged educators, business people and citizens present during a talk held at Magness Library to enroll as many children as possible and to donate to the organizations in order to reach more children who can benefit from the reading program.
Warren County educators have the option to donate by authorizing a one-time deduction from their paycheck which will support the program for children in the county.
“My husband is trying to recruit business to Tennessee and more jobs for our citizens. When he hears from recruiters, a concern is the education of our workforce,” said Crissy Haslam. “They need educated people to take on these jobs. So, he is also working on education. They go hand in hand.”
“We are so fortunate to have the Books from Birth Foundation,” Haslam continued. “It has been in Tennessee for nine years. We are attempting to enroll as many children as we can and raise the finances to support this program. And, to get books in the hands of families, to encourage reading in the home. Studies have shown the best thing parents can do for young children to prepare them for school and for learning is to read to them at an early age.”
Governor’s Books from Birth president Theresa Carl said the price is only $24 per year per child. That amount will provide the child with book per month for a year. The county only has to pay one-half of the cost.
School system representative Autumn Turner said, “Our goal is to have all of our community rallying around this. In the past two months, we have increased enrollment in the program by 4 percent. Last Friday we enrolled 98 kids at the fair. Fundraising goes a long way with increasing enrollment.”
Since its inception, 108,468 books have been delivered in Warren County.
Out of 2,597 eligible children in the county, only 994 are currently enrolled.
The annual cost of the program at current enrollment is $11,916. The cost is projected at $31,164 at 100 percent enrollment.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive at kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants.
Registration forms for the Imagination Library program may be picked up at Southern Standard, 105 College Street.