United Way helps get 75,000 free books delivered to Coshocton children

| February 24, 2017

Sophia and DaddyCOSHOCTON – In November of 2008, the United Way of Coshocton (UWC) launched the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) sending any enrolled child under the age of 5 and living in Coshocton, free age-appropriate books monthly in the mail.

This program began in 1995 when Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, DPIL, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.

Dolly’s Imagination Library became so popular that in the year 2000 she announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally. Since the initial program launch in the United States, DPIL has gone from just a few dozen books to over 80,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom. Currently over 1,600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to over 1,000,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and independent reports have shown DPIL drastically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved scores during early literacy testing.

Locally in that first year of 2008, the United Way of Coshocton had 300 children enrolled. Currently there are over 900 Coshocton children enrolled having graduated over 1,500 children.

This month marks the sending of the 75,000th book to a Coshocton County child. One child participating is Sophia Sellers, who is 3-years-old and has been in the program since her birth.

“I like to read and I like getting books from the mailbox,” Sophia said. Her favorite books that she has received are from the Lama Lama series and she especially likes “Lama Lama and the Bully Goat.”

Sophia likes to switch between having her parents read to her and telling stories to her parents by looking at the pictures in her books. She also likes to pretend to read to her little sister Sawyer, who is 1 and also enrolled in the program. “I show her stuff in the books,” Sophia said.

Eric, Sophia and Sawyer’s father, likes to see his girls read together. “Watching them pick up books together helps them with sharing and learning,” he said. Eric believes the monthly delivery of books has made an impact on Sophia. “She seems to understand the stories and is more aware of what’s going on around her,” he said.

Funding for the program has been through various grants from local and regional foundations. Local funders and foundations include Montgomery, Coshocton, Simpson Family, COTC, McWane, Kraft, AEP, Kiwanis, Rotary, FCFC, Coshocton Board of DD, PNC, and Dave Burns foundations. “This program would not have been possible without the generous donations from these local foundations, schools, businesses, and civic groups. We are so grateful that they saw the value in early literacy and the tremendous benefit books are to the future of our children,” said Lyn Mizer, director.

Books are mailed via bulk mail and average about $30 a year per child. It is the hope of the United Way of Coshocton that the program will continue for as long as possible. Any donor wishing to designate a portion of their pledge may do so.

Anyone wishing to sign their child up for DPIL may do so by calling the United Way office at 740-622-4567.






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