Rutland’s children will soon get books from Dolly Parton.
Rutland Free Library announced this week it would help local families enroll in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends children an age-appropriate book every month until the age of five.
The program will be open to children in the city, as well as the library’s other member towns — Rutland Town, Mendon, Tinmouth and Ira. Pittsford’s Maclure Library already has been working with the program in its area — one of eight such partnerships in Vermont.
“They started just in Pittsford and have started expanding to other towns,” said Joan Gamble, who is organizing the effort in Rutland. “We’re coordinating with them to make sure we’re not serving the same towns.”
Titles on the organization’s list for 2021 include the “Llama Llama” series and “Sleep Tight With the Very Hungry Caterpillar” for younger children, as well as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” for those at the upper end of the age range,
Gamble said the Imagination Library gets the books and mailing costs discounted and that the local partner organizations wind up spending about $30 per child per year — the program is free to participants. Gamble said the member towns have roughly 1,000 children under five, and that her research has indicated participation will probably cap out at around 65 percent, giving them a fundraising goal of $19,500 a year.
“I’m confident I can raise the money,” she said. “It’s such a good deal.”
While she is applying for grants from organizations like the United Way and local Rotary clubs, Gamble said the city school district has pledged roughly $11,000 due to the expected positive effect on kindergarten preparedness. She said the city lags behind the state, with only 69% of Rutlanders being prepared when they arrive for kindergarten, as opposed to a statewide average of 84%.
Gamble said school administrators told her some children arrive at kindergarten not knowing what a book is because they have never seen one.
“It’s hard to imagine,” she said. “I’m looking around the room I’m in and I’m surrounded by books.”
Registration forms are available at the library’s website, rutlandfree.org