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To the Editor,

At FGV Smart Start, we are excited about the growth of our literacy programs for young children and their families. We are also proud of our local communities for their support of our efforts to make sure our children have additional access to books. And now, we thank our state legislature.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, in which children ages 0-5 receive an age-appropriate book each month in the mail, was started in Vance County in 2005. Donations came from individuals, and support from Walmart, Progress Energy (now Duke Energy), Target, and soon after the Vance United Way helped us grow. Our own signature fundraiser, Time Out Tuesday, where local citizens raise funds for this program while incarcerated for an hour, helped us to begin enrolling more children in this wonderful adventure. The Imagination Library continued to grow, expanding to Granville County with the assistance of the Granville County United Way, and into Franklin County with the support of the United Way of Franklin County. The program continuously carried between 300-400 children, with children aging out and new ones being enrolled.

In 2018, the North Carolina legislature saw the value of the Imagination Library and provided funding for all Smart Start programs across the State to add (or expand) this literacy program. Just this week we enrolled child no. 2550. We are expecting this support to continue into the next fiscal year as we enroll new children every day.

So when you see a Dolly Parton Imagination Library display in the community, pick up one and enroll your child, or your grandchild, or give one to your neighbor. You can also register online, just Google Imagination Library, check availability, and enter your zip code. It’s free, and every child can benefit from having a book delivered to their home for their enjoyment. Then, sit with that child in your lap, read and begin the adventure.

Let’s make sure all children begin school ready to learn.

Garry Daeke