Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library enrolling children in Ottawa Co.

Press Staff Writer

        Imagine a full bookshelf, available to a child at home before he or she ever enters a kindergarten classroom.
        Partnering with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library (OGIL), United Way in Ottawa County and community leaders are “imagining” just such a scenario with the September 2020 launch of Imagination Library in Ottawa County. The combined efforts will put up to 60 picture books in the hands of every Ottawa County child, from birth to age 5.   “Books are the foundation of everything we do in later life, and reading to children every day is time well spent,” said Maria Moon, who ran Mrs. Moon’s Pre-School in Port Clinton for many years. Having educated hundreds of young readers in the area, she is glad to see Imagination Library come to Ottawa County, adding, “Books open up the world, help children solve problems, love nature, and love other people.”
        According to human development and psychology experts Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, in “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3,” “Developing literacy begins at birth. By the age of three, a child’s brain is already 80% developed, and, by the time a child enters kindergarten, they must already know thousands of words in order to succeed in the classroom.”
        Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was founded in 1995 and initially delivered books to children in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Parton was born. The program has grown to deliver over one million new books to children across the United States, and the world, every month.
        According to the OGIL website,, when First Lady Fran DeWine’s grandchildren participated in the program, she saw the impact the books had and “wanted every child across Ohio to have that same opportunity.” In 2019, the Ohio legislature included $5 million in its budget to jump start the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library over a course of two years. Working to bring early literacy to each of Ohio’s 88 counties, Gov. Mike DeWine is aiming to provide OGIL enrollment to every eligible Ohio child by 2021.
        Approximately 2,000 Ottawa County children of pre-school age could benefit from receiving the free books. The books, which are mailed directly to each child each month and cost approximately $25 per child per year, are selected by a panel of early childhood literacy experts.
        “It is wonderful to feel the energy and caring by local organizations, generous private donors and a magnificent anonymous grant, come together for the first year’s match to the OGIL program and launch of Imagination Library in Ottawa County,” said Alison Lanza Falls, United Way in Ottawa County Advisory Board member. “This is just the beginning of more hard work to get the word out, help parents enroll their preschoolers and continue to raise funds to ensure the viability and growth of Imagination Library in the years ahead.”
        Community organizations and individual leaders are collaborating, financially and administratively, to make the effort possible. As a designated partner, United Way of Greater Toledo, via the Ottawa County office, will handle the administration of Ottawa County Imagination Library program, serving as the conduit for direct community donations and enrollment of children in the area. With the motto of “starting a new chapter to improve early childhood literacy across Ohio,” OGIL matches all funds raised, dollar for dollar. Every $1.05 donated provides one new book for a child.
        To enroll a child in Imagination Library in Ottawa County, visit and click on the “Register Now” tab.
        For more information about the OGIL program, visit Businesses, organizations, or individuals interested in supporting this cause may call United Way in Ottawa County at 419-734-6654 or email


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