The Westar Energy Foundation awarded a $2,500 grant to The Library Foundation to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a free book program for children from birth to 5 years old. The Imagination Library mails a new, carefully selected book in the child’s name directly to their home once a month. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and United Way of Greater Topeka make Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available to all children in Shawnee County to help prepare them for kindergarten.
“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been shown to improve early childhood literacy for children in the program,” said Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library CEO Gina Millsap. “We greatly appreciate Westar Energy Foundation’s support of this valuable community program.”
More than 500 individuals and organizations have helped make the Imagination Library possible in Shawnee County. Currently, almost 4,000 Shawnee County children are enrolled in the program, which is about one-third of those who are eligible. It costs $25 to mail one year of books (12 books) to a child or $125 for five years of books (60 books) per child. The Library Foundation and United Way of Greater Topeka have a goal of raising $1 million to sustain this program that will help develop eager learners ready for kindergarten. To date, nearly $600,000 has been raised.
Parents can sign up their children ages birth to 5 years old for this program at tscpl.org/imagination. Enrolled children receive a book every month until they turn 5 or they move out of Shawnee County. This program is available to all children in Shawnee County regardless of household income.