GCF Grant Stories GNSC Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Photo of Dolly Parton smiling with children's book covers behind her head

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library comes to Guelph! #GCFGrantStories

Next up in our #GCFGrantStories series is Community Grant recipient Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC), which received funding for its Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program.

100% of the received funds went towards books for local children 0 to five years old. For $45 per child per year, each child received a high-quality, age-appropriate book in the mail once a month from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Canada. California and Illinois have adopted this program for all children born in those states as they have seen solid, measurable, positive results for children.

To promote the program, GNSC attended two in-person events to sign up children, created social media accounts, placed posters in several locations, reached out to City councillors and the mayor, wrote about the program in the Brant Avenue School newsletters as well as in the Neighbourhood Group newsletters, and spoke to two local newspapers. As a result of this outreach, over 30 children signed up, and over 200 books were mailed out in the Brant Avenue Neighbourhood!

Reading promotes empathy and curiosity and is the basis for moral literacy. It exposes children to a range of problem-solving techniques and ignites a child’s creativity and imagination. Their stronger reading skills enable them to communicate more effectively orally and in writing.

Children who first try to learn to read in a crowded classroom, competing with their classmates for the teacher’s attention, often lag behind others privileged enough to have had more early exposure to reading and can develop a negative self-image. A child who learns to read at home early grows more self-confidence.

At GNSC’s first sign-up event, the team met enthusiastic children excited about getting books. The first child to sign up came to their event with his mother to tell them how much he looked forward to the books every month and how he takes them everywhere. He is incredibly excited about reading and takes great pride in having these books that are his own to keep. Looking ahead, GNSC is considering expanding into a second neighbourhood to reach more children.

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