Dolly Parton's Imagination Library open to local kids

Shawn Hardy

A new page is turning for young children in the Greencastle-Antrim School District.

Beginning early next year, the nearly 1,000 youngsters from birth to age 5 who live Greencastle and Antrim Township will be eligible to receive a free book each month from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation has received a $6,800 grant from the Franklin County Community Foundation, a regional foundation of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, for the startup funds to be a regional affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. The money will go to computer equipment, marketing and other costs associated with beginning the program and registering children. Registration details will be announced later.

The funds were awarded Thursday evening, Nov. 14, during a ceremony in Chambersburg. Sixteen organizations received grants totaling $72,043 from the Franklin County Community Foundation.

Use your imagination 

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has put books in the hands of millions of children across the country and around the world. In a letter on the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library website, the singer and actress says:

“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams."

"I'm thrilled we're going to be offering this to children in the community," said Cheryl Brown, executive director of GAEF. "To me, this is a big impact we're going to be making."

GAEF's mission is to impact every students' experience and "as an education foundation, we felt we have to start with preschool. It adds to GAEF's impact to enhance the lives of all children, not just school age, so to me this is the perfect fit."

“Providing books to children ages birth to 5 will assist in developing a child’s cognitive development, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear and will eventually read," said Dr. Kendra Trail, G-ASD superintendent. "When children are read aloud to, their vocabulary is expanded and their background knowledge is enhanced; therefore, better preparing them for school readiness.”

"With the national focus on preschool learning and the enormous benefits of reading to our children, GAEF is proud and honored to add preschool learning to the other areas of impact that it enhances on a daily basis for students, teachers and the community at large," said Brown, who hopes to eventually expand the library program into other parts of Franklin County.

The Dolly Parton organization selects age-appropriate books that are sent each month to participants. The first book is "The Little Engine That Could." The final book when a child turns 5 is "Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come."

A child that begins the program at birth will have a personal library of 60 books by the time they start school.

 Other grant recipients 

Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library — $5,251

Antietam Humane Society — $2,000

Capitol Theatre Center Foundation — $2,720

Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Inc. — $3,000

Cumberland Valley Breast Care Alliance Inc. — $7,406

Diaper Depot at Central — $7,000

Employment Skills Center — $5,000

Franklin County Legal Services — $3,000

Hearthstone Retirement Home — $5,506

PennCares — $1,727

The Boys and Girls Club of Chambersburg & Shippensburg Inc. — $5,000

The Nicodemus Center for Ceramic Studies Inc. — $4,000

Vickie's Angel Walk Inc. — $1,727

Waynesboro Community & Human Services Inc. — $7,406

Waynesboro Community Concert Association — $4,500