The best way to ensure a healthy future is to raise well-educated children, and the best way to ensure children are educated is to promote literacy from a young age.
Which is where the Dolly Parton Imagination Library comes in. Started in 1995, the program aims at improving childhood literacy from birth to age five, when school typically starts, by providing an age-appropriate book each month in the mail. Classic books like The Little Engine that Could, or books reflecting Canadian values and history like Counting on Snow, which was written by Harrison’s Maxwell Newhouse.
And since its conception, the country singer’s literacy program has spread across the globe, with 170 Canadian affiliates, 35 of which are in B.C., including the Fraser Valley Library branches in Chilliwack.
Brought to the Valley in the spring of 2018 through the efforts of Brian Martin and Sharon Blaker and the local Optimist Club chapter, the Imagination Library program works, in part, through the support of community members.
“We’re grateful to have been part of (both) communities for such a long period,” said Baker Newby’s administrator, Tim Wurtz.
“Many of our lawyers and associates are passionate advocates for early literacy. Children with access to books and exposed to reading prior to kindergarten are more likely to achieve academic success,” added Wurtz.
Which is why Baker Newby has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, every donation received until Sept. 1, 2019, up to $20,000.
When the Imagination Library program first came to town, Martin said their goal was to round up enough community support to provide 3,000 children with books that would “foster a love of reading.”
And now, through Baker Newby’s generous donation pledge, Martin says Chilliwack’s Imagination Library program has received the boost they needed to turn those ambitions into a reality: this amount will provide approximately 200 children with a book per month from the time they’re born until they turn five.
“Community interest and support has been extremely encouraging,” said Martin.
“Baker Newby’s matching program will accelerate achievement of our three-year goals by immediately delivering high quality books to local children who might not otherwise have access.
“Their generous support is the big break we’ve been hoping for and a shining example of their commitment to the children, families and the community.”
With files from Jessica Peters.