Sunday, January 28, 2007

Books from Birth

Country singer Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee to provide free books to children in the county from birth through the age of five when they start school. The concept for the program came from the fact that children who are not around books before they start school find it very difficult to ever catch up with those children who were lucky enough to have books in their lives from the beginning.
Linebaugh Library director Laurel Best said Imagination Library and the state of Tennessee’s Books from Birth program matches funds with Rutherford Books from Birth to provide monthly books to about 6,278 preschool children in the county who registered. Projections show some 13,000 children under age 5 live in Rutherford County.

Best and former County Mayor Nancy Allen discussed the idea of the program in the county. Hunter and Linette McFarlin led the drive to raise matching funds to launch the reading program last February.

Hunter McFarlin said his mother read to him, making school easy for him. Linette read to their children from the womb. They are now accelerated students. “We got involved because we are convinced this can transform our culture and our society by putting books in the hands of the children before they get to school,” McFarlin said.

Kindergarten and first-grade teachers know students who are not around books before school never catch up.

“It’s our mission and Dolly Parton’s mission to make sure that books reach children before they get to school,” McFarlin said.

Originally, Books from Birth received start-up funds from Nissan, other organizations and Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce members. For the program to continue, it needs funding.

“Our critical need right now is money,” Best said.

It always does eventually come down to "money." This program is serving the state of Tennessee well and it would be a shame to see it disappear because of a lack of funding from the state and counties to keep it going. Hopefully, corporate funds and private donations will take up some of the slack if government funds can't completely cover the program but, with so much tax money being wasted by government agencies at all levels, it would not seem to difficult for the necessary funds to be earmarked for a worthy program like this one. With any luck, this program will spread to the other 49 states. What better investment than our children?


  1. Great idea; but read my comments on the post above about teen boys.

    being surrounded by books, alove of books, and being read to, is no automatic guarantee that that love will be transferred! I guessit increases the odds though.

  2. I suppose that increasing the odds is about all we can hope for when it comes to creating lifetime readers. It does seem to usually increase the vocabulary of youngsters, though, and that can translate into early success in school. Getting them off to a good start is key to how they will do for the rest of the way...I think.