Community

Live in Marion? Here's how to get your young child a free book every month

Imagination Library program offers young Marion kids a way to get free books once a month

The Marion Public Library is becoming a part of Dolly Parton's Imagination network, a program that mails a book once a m
The Marion Public Library is becoming a part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination network, a program that mails a book once a month to children 5 years old and younger. (The Gazette)
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MARION — Children 5 years old and younger who live in the 52302 Marion Zip code can now get a book delivered to their door once a month through the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

The Imagination Library, in partnership with Friends of the Marion Public Library, sends an age-appropriate book each month to registered children. The program was launched by Dolly Parton in 1995, to create a lifelong love of reading.

“Having books in the home is one of the key indicators of success in school and in life,” said Olivia Stoner, Children’s and Family Services Manager at the Marion Public Library. “You build vocabulary and relationships with caregivers and a love of reading that can last a lifetime.”

The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation became an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in May 2018. In the first year, the library saw 50 percent enrollment, with 7,300 of the 9,100 eligible children in Cedar Rapids participating.

Stoner said she has been wanting the Marion library to be an affiliate of the Imagination Library for years.

“It’s a big cost, which was a barrier for us. Thankfully, our Friends (of the Marion Public Library) are being super generous, and we have some donors helping start the program,” Stoner said.

More than $15,000 has been raised to launch the program, enough to provide 100 children with books for three years. The Marion Independent School Foundation & Alumni Association, Alliant Energy Foundation and the John A. & Elise M. Nelson Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation have contributed to the program.

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Stoner said up to 2,000 children in Marion could be eligible for the program. The library still is taking donations, and anyone can sponsor a child for $25 a year.

“Maybe grandparents would be interested in sponsoring their grandkids,” Stoner suggested, or families who don’t need free books could sponsor other kids.

Stoner said when families have outgrown these books, they always can be donated back to the library to be used as giveaways or summer reading prizes.

The Friends of the Marion Public Library has a contract with the Imagination Library for five years.

Bob Hoyt, president of Friends of the Marion Public Library, said they hope to continue the program well beyond five years.

“I can’t imagine how pleased a child that’s 3 or 4 or 5 years old is when they get a book that comes to their home in their name and they get to open that,” Hoyt said.

Hoyt, a retired Marion Middle School principal, said as a career educator, he wanted the Friends group to invest in the literacy and education of young children.

The earlier children are exposed to reading, the better they do academically, Hoyt said.

The Imagination Library is just another way the Marion Public Library is working to build positive connections in the community, Stoner said.

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This summer, they will be launching Traveling Tales, a program where library personnel travel to parks in the community and do story time every week.

They also facilitate Grow on the Go, a program where they travel around to day cares and preschools in Marion for story time and games.

For more information on either of these programs, visit marionpubliclibrary.org or visit them on Facebook.

To sign up a child for the program or to donate, visit the Marion Public Library at 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion, or contact Norah Hammond at nhammond@marionpubliclibrary.org or call the library at (319) 377-3412.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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