As of December 1, more than 500,000 books have reached over 26,000 children ages 0-5 in Onslow County through One Place’s partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
“We believe that today a reader, tomorrow a leader. The first 2,000 days of a child’s life are critical in brain development,” said Dawn Rochelle, Chief Executive Officer of One Place. “The smiles and the language development that these books have created each month over the last 10 years for families is something that we are very proud of.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) is a book-gifting program that mails a new, age-appropriate book each month directly to the homes of registered children until their 5th birthday-at no cost to the family. Created by Dolly Parton in honor of her father and other family members who struggled with literacy, she has changed millions of lives through books.
“As a military community, we know that these books have traveled with military families all over the world helping children have a memory of our community with them wherever they go,” said Rochelle.
In 2010, One Place recognized the need to better prepare children to enter kindergarten ready and eager to learn. Understanding that a key predictor of children’s school success is early access to books, the organization began conversations with key groups in the community to spearhead an effort to bring DPIL to the children of Onslow County. Through a collaboration with United Way of Onslow County, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville (NC), and Golden Corral, the first book mailing in July 2011 reached 101 children.
“All Children should have their own home library. It is there that they learn to love words and turning pages, smelling the pages of a new book, and hearing the sound of their parents’ voices,” said Lisa Davis, Early Literacy Coordinator at One Place. “It is there that they learn about sentence and story structure, rhyming and opposites, ‘what happened’ and ‘what if.’ These home libraries are places where children’s minds learn, grow and dream. All children deserve that.”
The program continued to be funded by local donations and Smart Start funding secured through One Place but registration was limited to ensure funding was available for all enrolled children to receive books through their 5th birthday or “graduation” from the program.
In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly stepped in with a bold, child-focused initiative to make DPIL part of every child’s home and future in North Carolina.
“We were immediately ready to serve more children because the community helped us first,” said Rochelle. “This milestone celebration is a celebration of a belief in our future.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is available to all children under the age of 5 in Onslow County. To register a child visit www.oneplaceonslow.org/dpil
“Imagination Library is creating a generation of readers,” Davis said. “Children who have access to books at an early age are better prepared to enter kindergarten and ready to learn.”