Governor Larry Hogan has announced that starting March 1, 2016, every child, from infancy to age five in Baltimore City can be enrolled, free of charge, in a new reading and book-delivery program. Named “Governor’s Young Readers,” the program
is a part of country star Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that mails a specifically selected, age-appropriate book each month to the homes of participating children. The governor first announced the state’s adoption of the program in December.
“I am very excited to announce that the Governor’s Young Readers program officially begins today in Baltimore City,” said Governor Hogan. “Books are incredibly important building blocks in a child’s education, and my hope is that this program will foster a love of reading and learning, and help put children on a path for lifelong success.”
Every month, each enrolled child will receive a new book specially chosen by a group of professionals in education, child development, and early childhood literacy. To help make this possible, the Governor’s Office for Children has partnered with Family League of Baltimore, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes resources, empowers communities, and builds the capacity of organizations to provide children and families with high-quality programs and services that help them reach their full potential. Family League will serve as the coordinating organization for the “Governor’s Young Readers” initiative. They will identify local partners to assist in promoting the program, help families sign up for the books, and lead the fundraising effort for the local portion of the program. Funding for the state’s portion of the program will be provided by the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
“The Young Readers initiative is a terrific way to put brand-new books into the hands of thousands of young readers throughout Baltimore and encourage parents, grandparents, and others to read aloud to even the youngest children,” said Jonathon Rondeau, president and CEO of Family League of Baltimore. “Family League is proud to partner with the Governor’s Office for Children on this effort to boost literacy and instill a lifelong love of reading.”
Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation started Imagination Library in 1995 for the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Her goal was to encourage a love of reading among local preschool children and their families with the gift of a new book each month. By 2000, the program had become so popular that Parton announced she would make the program available to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it. Since the initial launch in 1995, over 60 million books have been mailed to children in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Over 1,600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to over 890,233 children in the United States alone. Statistics and independent reports have shown Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has dramatically improved early childhood literacy and reading scores for those enrolled.
If you wish to enroll a child living in Baltimore City, you may do so at http://bmoregetabook.org/ or for more information on where you can sign up in person, visit the Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Early Learning; Judy Centers; Head Start Collaborative; Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center; Women,
Infants, and Children (WIC); Baltimore Infants and Toddlers Program; Enoch Pratt Free Library; Home Visiting Programs, such as Sinai Hospital and Baltimore Healthy Start; or a local family child care provider.