The public is invited help celebrate the five-year anniversary of the partnership between the Coffee County Imagination Library (CCIL) and Tennova Healthcare – Harton, group officials have announced.
CCIL Chair Frances Samples said the celebration will serve as a way to thank the hospital for its continued dedication to promoting literacy in the area over the last five years.
Tennova Healthcare – Harton has enrolled all babies born at the hospital in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program and sent them home with their first book, “The Little Engine That Could.”
In addition to helping CCIL, Samples said the partnership with Harton has also helped numerous families in the surrounding counties, as many newborns from several surrounding counties come into the world here in Tullahoma.
The celebration will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. on Friday, July 13, in the private dining room at the hospital.
Samples said families in Coffee or surrounding counties are encouraged to stop by the celebration to show how far the program benefitting families in the area has reached.
Since partnering with Harton, Samples said CCIL has seen a 22-percent increase in the number of children registered – a total of 770 more children receiving 60 free books for their first five years.
While the specific books children receive in the program changes from year to year, Samples said there are two staples for every child: the first and last book.
Children receive free books each month until age 5. Because they program ends as children prepare to enter kindergarten, the final book they receive is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”
The program helps children establish their own libraries until they enter school and have broader access to books, Samples said. Once they enter school, she said, children become eligible for library cards, which gives them another place to find more books and keep their love of reading alive.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
The Coffee County program is part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides free books to children from birth until they begin school, according to the program’s website.
Launched in 1995 in Sevier County, where Parton grew up, the program was inspired by her Parton’s father’s inability to read or write. Parton wanted to inspire young children to read and to love reading.
The first order saw 1,760 books mailed to the registered children in Sevier County, according to the website.
The program saw a Tennessee-specific partnership boost the program statewide in 2004, when then-governor Phil Bredesen created the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), which provides 50 percent of the funding for the books Tennessee children receive.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has since expanded worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, among other countries. The 25-millionth book was presented in 2010.
As of last month, the program has mailed nearly 106 million free books to children around the world.
If you want to go
Supporters of CCIL and any family who has benefited from the program in surrounding counties is encouraged to come by next Friday, Samples said.
The celebration will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. in the private dining room at Tennova Healthcare – Harton. Light refreshments will be provided.
The hospital is located at 1801 N. Jackson St. Those attending the celebration are asked to enter through the main entrance in the back of the building.
For more information, check out Coffee County Imagination Library on Facebook.
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.