Have a child under five who needs to get reading? The Rotary Club of Dawson Creek Sunrise may have the solution.
They have opened up the latest branch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an initiative which gives children under five years old a new book every month, for free.
“My wife and I have been involved through the Rotary E-club in Canada. We’ve been sponsoring books in the Northwest Territories for four years now and always wanted it here,” says Tim Schilds, past president.
“What really galvanized that we needed to do this was a visit to one of the local elementary schools, and they told us about their grade two and three children — there were more reading below grade level than there were at grade level. So this is designed to really create a love of books, and get children reading more, and studies have shown in other areas that it really improves literacy and reading ability.”
The initiative as a whole started in 1995, inspired by country singer Dolly Parton’s father, who was unable to read. Since starting in her hometown, the program has expanded to many locations across the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. There are 41 locations listed in BC, and four in Alberta, including Grande Prairie.
Despite only being a few weeks old, the DC branch already has 305 children enrolled.
“The area we’re covering there is about 1,245 children according to the last census, so a good number is usually 60 to 70 percent, so we’re hoping for somewhere around seven to eight hundred, once we get up and fully running and fully funded,” Schilds says.
The requirements? As long as the child is under five, and lives in DC, Pouce Coupe or PRRD Electoral Area D, they are eligible.
While the DC branch is limited to that area, it’s not the only one in the Peace. In Chetwynd, the Chetwynd Public Library runs the program with 183 participants. Schilds says a Fort St. John operation is “trying to get started.”
“I’m really excited about it, I’ve seen the difference it makes in other communities,” he explains. “A lot of these children have never had their own book, and it arrives in their name every month.”
For DC, Pouce, and Area D residents, you can go to https://imaginationlibrary.com/ca/affiliate/BCDAWSONCREEK/ to register online, in-person at the DC Municipal Library, or conatct RotaryDCSunrise@gmail.com for more information. For more information on the Chetwynd program, go to https://imaginationlibrary.com/ca/affiliate/BCCHETWYND/ or the Chetwynd Public Library.