Free books now available for Delaware kids thanks to Imagination Library expansion

DELAWARE – Every Delaware child from birth to five-years-old now has the ability to get free books delivered right to their home. It’s all thanks to the state’s expansion of Dolly Parton’s world renowned Imagination Library program.

“There’s nothing more important to their future success than getting in on the ground floor of them learning how to read and learning the importance of books and reading,” says Marleena Scott with the Harrington Public Library. “It costs parents absolutely nothing so there’s no reason not to be involved in this program.”

Through the program, every enrolled child gets one new age appropriate book in the mail every month from birth until the child’s fifth birthday.

“That’s when they are soaking in everything. They are learning everything and if we can help or the whole State at this point can help with reading and make that a big part of their formative years, they’re going to be even more ready when they go to kindergarten,” says Scott.

It’s a concept officials say is even more useful during the pandemic as students are spending less time inside classrooms and some families are facing financial hardships. “So children are learning new vocabulary. They are learning about different places and cultures and things in the world which is especially important when we are stuck at home,” says Dr. Annie Norman, the State Librarian for Delaware.

According to Norman, about half of Delawareans have library cards and only 25 percent of kids have one so officials hope this program brings everything full circle. “We want every Delawarean to have a library card, to use it often because that’s going to help our reading scores that’s going to help Delawareans to succeed,” says Norman.

Governor John Carney announced a pilot launch of the Imagination Library program in five Delaware school districts in his 2020 State of the State address. Beginning in February, the Division of Libraries partnered with 13 local public libraries to make the program available to families within the pilot districts. So far, more than 3,800 children have been enrolled in the program and received more than 16,000 books.

Since the expansion was announced on Monday afternoon, Norman says 2,500 more children have registered for the free program.

Information and registration are available online through the Delaware Division of Libraries.

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