Children receive free books from grant

The Moore Educational Trust Board of Directors has voted to make an annual $10,000 grant for the next five years to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Shenandoah County, with the first grant to be issued July 1.

Susan Smith, public relations and textbook coordinator with Shenandoah County Public Schools, said the county’s journey with the Imagination Library began in 2012 when two teachers with the division, Susan Tusing and Dana Conlon, were finishing up at James Madison University’s Masters Reading Cohort. They were told about the program and knew it would make a difference in Shenandoah County.

According to a Shenandoah County Public Schools news release, the Dollywood Foundation sponsors Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails a brand new, age-appropriate book to enrolled children every month from birth to age five. Parton launched the program in 1995 to foster a love of reading among young kids.

Smith added that about 800 kids in Shenandoah County currently participate in the program, but hopes that the grant funding will allow an additional 200 children to join.

Books sent to the kids are selected by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Blue Ribbon Committee that reviews a book list every year, she said. The first book sent to each child is “The Little Engine That Could” because it was Parton’s favorite childhood story. From there, books are chosen based on the child’s age.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com