by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center (MLK Center)
The Imagination Library program at the MLK Community Center launched in April of 2020, during a time when all of us were coping with the first challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. But as we’ve seen time again at the MLK this past year, acts of kindness and generosity shone forth despite dark and anxious times. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, presented by the Bazarsky Family Foundation in partnership with the MLK, was one such bright spot for parents and guardians, providing free high-quality, age-appropriate literature for young, growing minds.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) puts books into the hands and hearts of children around the world. They partner with local communities to mail a hand-selected, age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to registered children, from birth to age 5, completely free of cost. Unlike other DPIL sites, the MLK’s Imagination Library is fully funded. Thanks to incredibly generous underwriting support from the Bazarsky Family Foundation (BFF), the program is offered at no cost to families, or to the Center.
What a year it’s been! The Center’s dedicated “Book Lady,” Judy Hall (Imagination Library Program Coordinator), has registered over 1,283 Newport County kiddos into the DPIL program. 1,283 children receive a package in the mail each month with their name on it, containing a book of their very own for them to keep. In the midst of the isolation and hardship of the pandemic, DPIL provided families with moments of togetherness, family memories, and fun: little ones looking forward to checking the mail each day, countless bedtime stories, younger siblings & older siblings cuddling up to read together, little sticky fingers grasping their Imagination Library favorite book and begging to read it again, for the third time today.
DPIL, in collaboration with the MLK, has been the catalyst for family memories and a love of reading but the program’s impact goes further still. Early access to books and reading helps set children on a path to academic and personal achievement.
As we look back on an unprecedented year, we pause to thank our partners at the Bazarsky Family Foundation, Carol and David Bazarsky, for ensuring every young child can receive high-quality, diverse, and inclusive books for the first five years of their life, regardless of their family’s income. And, we pause to thank “Miss Judy” for her tireless efforts to bring books to kids across Newport County, and for always having a smile!
If your child is between infancy and 5 years old and resides in Newport County, your family is eligible to receive a free book in the mail every month, through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, presented by the Bazarsky Family Foundation, in partnership with the MLK Community Center.