Imagination Library program comes to Elbert County

Early Childhood Council brings Dolly Parton’s vision to local residents

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has made its way to Elbert County with the help of the Elbert County Early Childhood Council. In cooperation with the State of Colorado, the council will help provide free books to kids ages birth through 5 in most of Elbert County.
Parton’s program, which launched in 1995, gifts one book per month to children birth through 5 years old regardless of economic status. So far, nearly 190 million books have been gifted to the more than 2 million kids registered for the program.
Last November, Gov. Jared Polis released a video announcing the Colorado expansion of Parton’s Imagination Library.
“We know the most important factor in a child’s success is early introduction to books and we’re proud to start connecting more children to books with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” the governor said.
The Elbert County Early Childhood Council has worked diligently over the past several months to bring Parton’s vision to locals. Integrating the Imagination Library helps the Council to fulfill their mission of creating a community of well-rounded, happy, healthy, educated children and families.
The council is made up of members from the community, including principals, preschool directors, nurses, early childhood mental health specialists, specialists working with children and families with disabilities or in need of additional support, and others dedicated to helping the youngest members of the Elbert County community.
“We’re really thrilled to be able to offer the Imagination Library program. It’s something we’ve been working on for a while,” said Llan Barkley, Director for the Elbert County Early Childhood Council. “It’s a low cost way for parents to introduce the love of reading to their kids.”
Many parents in Elbert County are excited that the program is now available to residents. In an Elbert County News article from December 2021,a then-to-be mom of twins shared her excitement for the potential new program.
“I’d love to sign up for something like this!” said Aly Thompson of Spring Valley Ranch. “Books are really important, and this seems like a great way to get more books in the house and a way to connect and help teach our kiddos. I also think the program would benefit Elbert County, helping kids learn about different cultures and ideas.”
Now a mother of 9-month-old twins, Thompson is thrilled for the news that Parton’s Imagination Library program is available to her children.
“We love to read. We read to our kids every night,” said Thompson. “At nine months they are very interested in holding and looking at books. This will give us the opportunity to give them a variety of books. I’m going to the website right now to sign up.”
As of Sept. 20, there were 113 children registered within Elbert County. There are 31,668 registered in the State of Colorado. The Colorado division of the Imagination Library is funded in part by the Colorado Department of Education and the Department of Early Childhood.
Beyond the first year, continuation of the program is contingent upon funding raised through the Elbert County Early Childhood Council. The organization will be responsible for mailing costs for each book, approximately $2.10 per book.
“After the first year we have to fund the program ourselves,” said Barkley. “Our council is very small, so we’ll be asking local businesses for support to help raise money.”
Currently the Imagination Library online signup does not recognize Elbert County residents who reside in the 80138 zip code — a Parker zip code that stretches into the northwestern corner of Elbert County. Any Elbert County resident who wants to sign up their child but resides in the 80138 area can email to register manually.
Donations to the Elbert County Early Childhood Council can be made through or by checks made payable to the Elbert County Early Childhood Council and mailed to P.O. Box 2262, Elizabeth, CO 80107.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, Elbert County, Colorado, literacy


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