Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the book-gifting program that aims to foster a love of reading from birth, has a Muskoka chapter that is looking for community support.
The program was started by country star Dolly Parton and is now running in five countries—to date it has mailed almost 160 million books to children, free of charge.
“Each chapter fundraises for the book and mailing costs but Dolly’s foundation, the Dollywood Foundation, is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes it work including paying the fundraiser’s ten staff members,” explained Muskoka chapter leader Rebecca Miller.
Miller has a background in teaching and has been running the Muskoka chapter for just over a year.
Parents and guardians can sign their children up from birth to age five, and if they are part of the program for all five of those years they will have compiled a little library of almost 60 books.
So far the Muskoka chapter has more 600 children signed up and Miller, who volunteers for the organization on top of her two jobs, has been working hard to fundraise across our community.
“When I heard about the program I immediately wanted to sign my kids up but I saw there wasn’t a chapter here in Muskoka and I thought to myself, well it just takes one person to get the ball rolling,” said Miller. “I wanted my kids to love reading and this is something we can sit and enjoy together. It’s truly such a worthwhile program that has such a positive impact in the families in our communities.”
A book selection board chooses the books based on the kids’ ages, developmental stages, and what country they live in.
“Because the books are picked by a committee, they are diverse books you may never have chosen yourself or have never heard of which makes them even more exciting,” said Miller.
“Being a teacher I have seen some of the challenges that students have when they struggle with literacy, so encouraging this from early on has such positive impact on them,” added Miller. “Even the little trips of going to the mailbox builds up so much excitement for the kids and it also helps teach them a lesson in treating your books with respect and having something special that is theirs.”
The Muskoka chapter is currently accepting registrations for children aged 0-5 in the following postal codes: P1H (Huntsville area), P1L (Bracebridge area), P0B (Port Carling/Rosseau/Minnett area), and P1P (Gravenhurst area). Once more funds are generated they are hoping to expand the program’s reach into other areas of Muskoka.
Based on the number of kids that are currently signed up, the Muskoka chapter requires around $2,000 per month, and it continues to grow.
So far the Muskoka chapter has received a $5,000 grant from the Muskoka Community Foundation, and the rest of the money is generated from the organizations Miller presents to. However, it’s been difficult to reach out to local groups during the pandemic, she said, since she can’t present in person.
“If you are part of a club or group or have a local business, I would love to give my fundraising pitch to you because it’s really important to me for this to continue to run,” said Miller.
If you have any questions about the program or you’re an individual, organization, or business that wants to donate to the Muskoka chapter of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (#412), contact Rebecca Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the program and sign up visit imaginationlibrary.com. It may take up to two months for the first book to arrive, and then you can expect one in the mail every month.
You can also find the Muskoka chapter of the library on Facebook at DPIL Muskoka.
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