The United Way and Covelli Enterprises have launched a new program aimed at putting a book in every child's hand from birth to age five. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a nationally known early childhood literacy program that delivers books to kids in over 1,000 communities.
"We believe if we get kids off to a good start, learning how to read early they have a better chance to succeed in school," said Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
The program, which is open to kids in Mahoning County, delivers an age-appropriate book, once a month, to kids until their fifth birthday.
"What I think is really great is a child at age two is going to get a different book than a child at age five and if you have two or three children you will get two or three books every month. So, it's not just for one child. It's not limited," said Hannon.
"That is the start of education. It's not when you enter school, but it's what you do leading up to getting into school and this program is really I believe going to be a game changer because it is going to help educate these kids that by the time they get into school they will be so much more advanced I think than they are now," said Allen Ryan, director of corporate affairs with Covelli Enterprises.
The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has also jumped on board to educate parents about the importance of reading age appropriate books to their children.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the kids in Mahoning County, but for the libraries where we are in the business of teaching parents how to read in developmentally appropriate ways to their kids it means that we get to share our expertise with more parents and that could only be a good thing," said Jo Nolfi with the Public Library.
Since Dolly Parton's Imagination Library began, over 40,000,000 books have been mailed to children. If you live in Mahoning County and want to sign your child up, visit the United Way's website.