EARLY READING: Imagination Library marks its fifth anniversary


GREENFIELD — Imagination Library marks its fifth anniversary this year, and the Hancock County Community Foundation had its annual Imagination Library Week in September that raised more than $25,000 for the program that gives books to young children.

Imagination Library has 2,614 Hancock County children enrolled in the program.

The early childhood literacy provides books to children from birth to age 5.

Kayla Ball has been recognized this year as the first “graduate” of the program.

“Imagination Library has bonded our family with a love for reading and has given Kayla a great foundation for early childhood literature,” said her mother, Kendra Ball. “The program has helped improve her vocabulary, built her imagination, and has given her a great children’s starter library to have at home. Kayla loved getting new books each month and she really likes getting her own mail.”

The program launched in Hancock County five years ago after the foundation board learned that about 40% of Hancock County children entering kindergarten were scoring below literacy readiness standards, according to a press release from the foundation.

In 2015, the foundation entered into a contract with the Dollywood Foundation to provide Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program to Hancock County children under the age of 5.

The foundation works with donations to fund the program, while partners at the Hancock County Public Library handle enrollment details.

As the foundation celebrated the program’s fifth fifth year, donors were encouraged to contribute financially Sept. 13-17 to help pay for books. There were also several Dine to Donate fundraisers throughout the county.

“Imagination Library is such a great program for children,” Ball said. “It helps to grow their love for learning and reading, creates family bonding time, and gives a wonderful at-home library. Kayla’s favorite book from the program has always been ‘Baby Signs.’ It’s our family favorite too.”

As Kayla ventures off to kindergarten, new children are entering the program.

Annie Claus was born on Jan. 1 of this year and is enrolled in the Imagination Library program.

“Our family loves that the books are age-appropriate and that kids her age will receive the same books and have the same opportunity to learn,” said her mother, Stacie Claus.

Stacie Claus liked to read as a child and she wants to instill that same love of story time and reading with Annie.