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Library Partners in United Way’s Imagination Library Initiative

“What a great way to connect, inspire and enrich!,” said Heidi M. Daniel, Library Executive Director, speaking of the Library’s involvement in the United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative.

Imagination Station Dolly“The United Way is connecting kids age 5 and under with books and putting books in children’s hands is something we believe in strongly,” Ms. Daniel noted. “Books inspire creativity and provide knowledge which can enrich lives.”

Imagination Station FormParents can sign up their children age 5 and younger for the United Way Imagination Library initiative and each month, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library will send a free book directly to their home address. The program is free. Sign up at the United Way or by clicking on the link on this page. You can print the form, fill it in, and mail it to the United Way address on the form.

She continues, “It is our hope that the Imagination Library project will inspire children to come to the Library and where they can check out even more books. One book a month to a child is a great start, but it takes many more books to create a reader and enrich a child’s life. That’s where a United Way and Library partnership makes perfect sense.

“Since reading and literacy are at the foundation what we do, it’s only natural that we would be pleased at the opportunity to be a partner in United Way’s Imagination Library project. As part of our partnership, we will provide workshops for parents in our libraries, featuring our librarians, who are skilled in early literacy. Our staff will present parents with techniques for reading with their children in developmentally appropriate ways. We aim to expand parents’ knowledge of the simple techniques they can use when reading to their children to give them the skills to become proficient readers.”

Josephine Nolfi, Library Manager of Youth Services and Programming: “We’re delighted to participate in United Way’s Imagination Library initiative so that we can extend our reach to more families. The Library is in the business of training parents and caregivers in the importance of reading.”

She adds: “Library story times showcase pre-literacy skills which are recognized as the foundation for learning to read and we hope to share these techniques with as many parents as possible. Our aim is to create successful learners and lifelong readers.”

The Library will work with parents to help them learn techniques for reading to their children in developmentally appropriate ways under a Reading Buddy program which will begin later this year. More details to come…


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From the United Way news release, April 9, 2014:

Free Book Program Launched in Mahoning County

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley launched its new initiative, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

In partnership with Covelli Enterprises and with help from the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley is able to make this early literacy program a reality.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is open to Mahoning County children 5 years old and younger. After they register for the Imagination Library, the kids receive a FREE age-appropriate book once a month until their fifth birthday as long as they live in Mahoning Conty.

“Today more than ever we need to invest in our young children’s future. The early years are the learning years and early investment matters to everyone,” said Kathy Mock, Director of Education and Initiatives, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. “A child who has difficult reading in third grade is less likely to catch up. The Imagination Library gives children the gift of literacy and the opportunity to be successful at a young age and beyond.”

Parents or guardians can register at www.ymvunitedway.org or pick up registration forms located at the United Way office, all branches of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, and various pre-schools and schools across Mahoning County. The books will be sent directly to the child’s home.

Covelli Enterprises recognizes the value in the Imagination Library and is partnering with United Way to fund the program.

“We really wanted to help champion a program that will make an impact on the lives of children living right here in our community,” said Sam Covelli, Owner/Operator, Covelli Enterprises, “The simple gift of a book can change the life of a child and we are looking forward to being a part of this special program in partnership with the United Way.”

By starting the children as early as possible, the Imagination Library will form a solid foundation for these children as they progress throughout school. This will serve as an important tool as they try to achieve the third grade reading guarantee.

“As we move to the Community Impact Model here at the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, the Imagination Library falls under our Success by Six Initiative,” said Bob Hannon, President, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. “We hope to focus on early childhood education so our children will be prepared well before they step foot into a classroom.”

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley realizes to truly make an impact it’s not enough to just get the books in the kids’ hands, but it’s also important to help adults in their lives capitalize on this opportunity. So United Way collaborated with the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County to create a Reading Buddy Program associated with the Imagination Library. This will allow parents and guardians the ability to help their children read.

“The Library is always excited when an opportunity arises to put books in the hands of children. It is our hope that the Imagination Library project will inspire children to come to the Library where they can connect with even more books and enrich their lives,” said Heid Daniel, Executive Director, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. “Since reading and literacy are at the foundation of what we do, it’s only natural that we would be pleased at the opportunity to be a partner in United Way’s Imagination Library project.”

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County will facilitate the Reading Buddy program. More information and dates for the Reading Buddy Program will be available soon.

United Way News Release - pdf