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UPDATE: 100,000th book mailed in Cedar Rapids as part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program

UPDATE (Feb. 14, 2020):

The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation has announced Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has mailed more than 100,000 books to children in the city.

A special celebration will be held February 20 at 5:15 p.m. at the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library to mark this milestone.  The public is invited to attend.

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Original story (Aug. 1, 2019):

5,000 Cedar Rapids kids enrolled in Dolly's Imagination Library

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- More than half of the children in Cedar Rapids under the age of five are now enrolled in a reading program designed to spark a love of literature at a young age.

More than 5,000 children are enrolled in the Cedar Rapids Library's Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program.

The growing number of children enrolled and set the program on track to mail their 100,000th book by the end of the year, according to a press release.

Any child under five-years-old living in Cedar Rapids is eligible to be enrolled in the program. There are no income restrictions whatsoever. Parents or guardians can fill out an official registration form at either of the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s locations, or register via the Library’s website at CRLibrary.org/Imagination-Library.

“Imagination Library affiliates across the country have seen increased kindergarten readiness scores for their program participants,” shared Library Director Dara Schmidt. “It is important to us that we are removing barriers to access books in the home so every child is ready to read upon entering kindergarten.”

Launched in January 2018, Cedar Rapids’ Imagination Library mails one book per month directly to a child’s home from birth until they turn five years old. To date, Library Foundation donors have mailed 70,000 books to children in the area, and nearly 900 kids have graduated from the program by turning five.

“Our enrollment partners are key in our efforts to reach the community’s most vulnerable children,” explained Charity Tyler, Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation. “This year, we’ve partnered with the Cedar Rapids Community School District and others to expand this effort.”

The Dollywood Foundation covers overhead by providing the enrollment database, book selection, book ordering and the shipping processes. The Library Foundation, through donor dollars, covers the costs of books and postage for children living in Cedar Rapids. Because of The Dollywood Foundation’s high-volume purchasing, our Library Foundation’s costs are reduced to approximately $2.10 per book per month, or $25 per child per year.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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