Governor, First Lady Commemorate Imagination Library Week
Event celebrates initiative that sends books to foster children in Tennessee, honors corporate sponsor Verizon
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam commemorated Imagination Library Week yesterday at the East Park Community Center by reading to a group of children in foster care and speaking with parents about the program’s positive impact.
The event was an opportunity to celebrate the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) foster care initiative, now a year old. Through a partnership between GBBF and the state Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Verizon has provided funding support for the automatic enrollment of eligible foster care children (birth to age five) in the Imagination Library program, ensuring these children receive new, age-appropriate books once a month in the mail.
“Crissy and I are pleased to participate in Imagination Library Week because with a presence in all 95 counties, the program continues its important role in educating children across the state,” Gov. Haslam said. “The foster care initiative is yet another example of how the library has been able to succeed and grow, and we want to thank Verizon for helping make this possible for these children.”
“The Imagination Library is a one of the best programs we have in Tennessee to promote early literacy with children and families,” Mrs. Haslam said. “We need all of our children in Tennessee reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, and expansion of this wonderful program to include children in foster care is a great step for our state.”
GBBF president Theresa Carl joined the governor and first lady at the event and highlighted the importance of reaching children in foster care with books from the Imagination Library.
“Aside from the many positives children get by receiving Imagination Library books in the mail – the satisfaction of having something to call their very own, the encouragement to love learning and reading, etc. – children in foster care need the steady and positive reinforcement the monthly books provide,” Ms. Carl said. “We’re grateful to Verizon for its support of our initiative and helping to ensure no eligible child in foster care misses out on the program.”
Alan Willet, executive director of finance for Verizon Wireless said, “At Verizon, we believe that our long term growth and success is tied to addressing some of society’s biggest issues and it starts in education. We are proud to support educational programs and initiatives in Tennessee where many of our employees work and live.”
Tennessee’s statewide Imagination Library mails a new, age-appropriate book once a month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to the family and regardless of income. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in each Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the GBBF. All 407,000 of the state’s children under age five have access to the Imagination Library. To date, over 16 million books have been delivered since the program began in October 2004.
An increasing amount of research supports the idea that children who grow up around books typically achieve better educational outcomes in school.
Currently, 44 percent of Tennessee third graders are reading on grade level. Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later. In a recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute, research showed that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.
“We’re working diligently to continue promoting this amazing program, which is a gift of up to 60 brand new books for every child in the state of Tennessee, from birth until age five – all at no cost to families,” said Ms. Carl. “Imagination Library programs in counties across the state are helping create a generation of children who will be better prepared to excel and achieve from the first day of school.”
About Verizon: Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 94 million retail customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 188,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
About the GBBF: The mission of the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation is to sustain and strengthen Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Tennessee’s preschool children, at no cost to the family and regardless of income. To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org, www.facebook.com/TNImaginationLibrary, or call toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.