Ripberger Library offers free book program

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2022

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With a vision to create a lifelong love of reading, prepare children for school and inspire them to dream, the Ripberger Libray in Kenbridge has partnered with The Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

This new program will offer free books to children from birth until they reach their 5th birthday no matter their family’s income.

“It is hoped that this will encourage reading by the family members to the children and the children themselves as they grow up,” said Library Director J.B. Crenshaw. “Hopefully, this will instill a sense of the importance of reading and a love for reading in those involved.”

According to Crenshaw, the program and reading to young ones early on in life have been shown that it can help children as they enter their school-age years.

Part of the program includes sending age-appropriate books every month directly to the homes at no cost to the family.

Crenshaw said bringing the program to the library was the idea of The Friends of the Ripberger Public Library, along with a library trustee.

“They brought the program to my attention a while back and after researching it and talking with my library director’ friends about it, It looked great.”

Crenshaw said that since his time as Director, the library has and continues to see fewer book checkouts in all age groups, especially among young people and children. “I pray this program will positively impact that situation,” he said.

After launching in 1995, the program grew quickly. First, books were only distributed to children living in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Parton grew up. It became such a success that in 2000 a national replication effort was underway. By 2003, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had mailed one million books. It would prove to be the first of many millions of books sent to children around the world.

Parton’s vision was to create a lifelong love of reading, prepare children for school and inspire them to dream. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library program is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development.

“Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission,” Parton writes on her website. “In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county, but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children.”