Manitoba First Nations children to receive free books from Parton’s Imagination Library

October 9, 2013

Children in 55 of Manitoba’s 63 First Nations will soon receive a new book every month from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The literacy foundation started by the country singer sends free books to children from birth to age 5 to encourage early literacy. In many First Nations communities there are no public libraries and no stores that sell children’s books. Karen Davis, an early child education worker from Ebb and Flow First Nation, is the driving force behind the project in Manitoba. She has been working for 6 years on the initiative, raising funds and support. So far, $700,000 has been raised, and approximately $250,000 more is needed to bring the program to the last 8 First Nations in Manitoba. The Dollywood Foundation covers staffing and travel, co-ordinates shipments from a database, and is able to purchase books at a large discount because of the volume of books the foundation buys. Involving parents is also a large part of the program, as children who are read to often perform better once they reach school age. Davis’ hope for the program is for “every child in a First Nation to start school with the enthusiasm where they can say, 'I can read. I know how to hold a book. My parents read to me.'” Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2) | CBC