Imagination Library kicks off in Perry County

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter aholliday@civitasmedia.com

May 20, 2014

HAZARD—After months of waiting for all the T’s to be crossed and the I’s to be dotted, the Hazard Rotary Club was finally able on Friday to kickoff its Imagination Library, a project which aims to help incorporate reading into the lives of local children as soon as they enter the world.

Rotarian Kristen Collins has worked on getting the project rolling from the very beginning, and said at the kick-off event at the Perry County Public Library in Hazard on Friday that she hopes to be able to expand the project to the whole area in the coming years. She explained that the library is actually a program, started by Dolly Parton, that mails children in a certain ZIP code area one free book every month from birth until they turn 5 years old.

“We are starting with ZIP codes 41701 and 41702, with hopes of expanding to all 27 ZIP codes in Perry County,” she said. “The very first book that everyone gets is ‘The Little Engine that Could.’ It’s one of Dolly Parton’s favorite books. And the very last book they get before they graduate out of the program is ‘Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!’”

Collins said each book comes with a letter from Dolly Parton inside, and this year’s reading list even includes a book written and illustrated by a Lexington children’s author.

“The books are all age appropriate. It’s based on what age you are that determines what book you get,” she said, adding that children can be signed up at any age before they turn 5 years old but will not receive books they’ve missed by signing up late, except for “The Little Engine That Could.”

Collins said children can be signed up for the program at the Perry County Public Library, and other sponsors will be available in the future, or by going online to ImaginationLibrary.com and entering in their ZIP code.

While the books are free, the Hazard Rotary Club is sponsoring the shipping cost for all children who sign up, of which Collins said there are just over 60 so far. The cost for one year of shipping for one child is $35.

“We’re hoping to do more kickoff events around the county as we expand,” Collins said. “Our main goal is actually just to sign-up as many kids as possible, which is what we want to do.”

Collins said the club is working on a sponsoring program so residents or groups can sponsor the shipping costs for a child for a year. She said the club is also currently taking donations for the program, which should be made out to the Hazard Rotary Club Foundation, Inc.

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.