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Pre-pandemic there were 78 mobile libraries travelling around Australia. These books on wheels services make significant economic, educational, social and cultural contributions to rural and remote communities. Problem is they can’t reach everywhere, the ranges of books available aren’t always fantastic and often these services only come by a few times a year.
A study released in 2013 by The Australian Institute of Family Studies stated that ‘Australian children in regional areas experience a “tyranny of distance” from major cities, seen in somewhat poorer learning outcomes for children living in these areas’… ‘Thus includes the development of vocabulary and non-vernal reasoning skills, such as the capacity to understand and analyse visual information’.
In the first five years of a child’s life reading regularly leads to healthy brain development that lasts a lifetime. The brain is developing at a rate faster than any other time in their life. Reading regularly not only helps young children get to understand sounds, words and language but also develop an ability to focus, build concentration, social and communication skills.
If access to a wide range of fun and engaging books is difficult due to where you live or how much money you have to spend then this can inhibit a child’s development. Not to mention the stress placed on the parents.
A families circumstances should never get in the way of providing optimal opportunities for children to develop so as a society we need to step up and make sure that all children are catered for. This is where our love for Imagination Library kicks in.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is the flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation. It reaches more children than any other early childhood book gifting program, and mails free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to children from birth until age five, no matter their family’s income.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was so successful in reaching children everywhere across the United States it has now expanded into 4 other countries, including Australia.
A free book gifting program – no need to return, even though the name suggests library these books are the children’s to keep or pass on to other children. One book is mailed every month, free of charge. Free!
Towns such as Doomadgee in remote portions of Queensland are seeing “marked improvements” in school readiness among children who have received Imagination Library books. In addition to Queensland, program coverage extends to communities in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.
So far, countless parents have shared how excited their child is when their new book arrives each month. Many groups and individuals work hard behind the scenes to make that special moment possible for each child.
The Imagination Library provides the infrastructure of the core program including managing the secure central database for the Book Order System and coordinating book selections and wholesale purchasing. It also incurs the cost of the program’s administrative expenses and coordinates the monthly mailings.
Local Affiliates and Partners are responsible for securing funds to cover that cost. Books are 100% free to enrolled children because their Local Affiliate has secured funds to cover the cost of the books and the shipping fees.
earthYARD believes all children across Australia deserve the right to a broad range of literature catered to assisting with their development and preparedness for schooling years. No child should be left behind.
Spending time with children reading stories also helps to create nurturing bonds with parents or caregivers. Providing a stable premise for healthy relationships growing up. Everyone is different, everyone’s circumstances are different but if we can provide all children with access to books we can secure their ability to develop into their own strong human presence.
earthYARD intends to continue to support The Imagination Library annually and eventually we’d love to be an affiliate that can help to deliver books to rural and remote areas. Until we are in a position to do so we will maintain our support of those who are currently delivering free books monthly to children enrolled in their program and help to provide more spaces for children in this inspiring initiative. earthYARD will donate an equal portion of its One Good Thing Fund annually to The Imagination Library.