Celebrating Family Literacy Day with free books for children
In recognition of Family Literacy Day, Premier Dennis King announced that his government will increase funding to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in PEI.
“We are pleased to announce that we are increasing support to build quality children’s libraries in homes across PEI. We want to encourage parents and caregivers to read aloud to their young children everyday. The early years are critical for literacy and language acquisition.
Reading together is one of the most effective ways caregivers can help children develop these essential skills. Research shows that having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education.”
- Hon. Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that inspires a love of reading and helps children under the age of five build their own home libraries. Each month, children who are registered receive a high-quality book in the mail, free of charge.
Under the administration of the PEI Literacy Alliance, this program was launched with the support of the Province of PEI, the Rotary Clubs of Charlottetown, Charlottetown Royalty, Montague and Eastern PEI, and the Rotary Literacy Foundation. Since 2020, more than 114,000 books have been mailed directly to the homes of children on PEI.
The PEI Literacy Alliance has also partnered with Health PEI and Public Library Services to increase access to this program. Public Library Services and Public Health Nursing operate the Born to Read program, which provides a free baby book and baby’s first library card at every two-month infant immunization appointment. This popular program will now also include information on signing up for the Imagination Library.
“Public Health Nursing is happy to partner with the PEI Literacy Alliance and the Public Library Service to help promote literacy and encourage child development through our encounters with families on PEI. We are pleased to provide families with a package that will include free books, a library card for your baby, and information on how to access the Imagination Library as well as other programs offered by our partners.” says Karen Ellis, Provincial Program Lead with Public Health Nursing.
With increased support from the Province of PEI and Rotary Clubs, the program will continue until March 2026 and aims to have 5000 children registered by 2025.
“The Imagination Library program has been incredibly successful in PEI. Parents and caregivers have reported that they are more aware of the importance of early literacy and that their families are reading more.” says Amanda Beazley, Program Director with the PEI Literacy Alliance. “Working with our partners to expand this program is the perfect way for us to celebrate Family Literacy Day.”
Background - Summary of University of Nevada Research:
Regardless of their financial situations or literacy levels, families that have books in their homes increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study by the University of Nevada that involved 27 countries. Children of parents with lower levels of education benefit the most from having books in the home. Providing books for these homes is an inexpensive way to help these children succeed.
Even a little bit goes a long way – having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books, the greater the benefit. That’s a lot of “bang for your book”.