Lowndes County 5 and Under Get Free Books – Lowndes Signal

Lowndes County Children’s Policy and The River Region United Way have worked together to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Lowndes County, helping to spread the love of reading through free children’s books.

Parents or guardians of children ages 0-5 who reside in Lowndes County can enroll their child(ren) in the program, where they will receive a free new book each month.

Jannah Bailey, President and CEO of The River Region United Way, said she was excited about the program and will attend the kickoff on Saturday, July 30 at the Back To School Bash being held at Russell Ball Field in Hayneville starting at 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.

According to Bailey, The River Region United Way and The Lowndes County Children’s Policy began working to bring the Imagination Library back to the River Region in January.

“It’s a process,” Bailey said of setting up the program in Lowndes County. “We serve five counties in the river region. We started by contacting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library headquarters in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We wanted to make sure we were a good area for the program and would be a good steward. We have met with each county’s Child Policy Councils and Lowndes County will be the first to roll out the new program.

Other counties that will follow in the rollout are Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore and Macon.

Bailey said a “big shout out” should go to the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education for a grant to United Way making this project possible. The grant provided funding for the program for two years, but work is already underway to provide future funding for the program and its expansion to other counties.

“Early education is on everyone’s mind to get kids where they need to be in reading,” Bailey said. “Anything we can do to put a book in a child’s hand.”

The 2022-23 school year will implement a reading initiative for third-grade students across Alabama. Third-grade students who do not meet the reading levels on the state exams will be held back and repeat third-grade. The initiative was supposed to start in 2021 but was pushed back due to COVID.

Bailey said registration is easy and children will receive age-appropriate books. Registration can be done online at www.imaginationlibrary.com, in person at the Back To School Bash or at The River Region United Way, 3121 Zelda Court, Montgomery, Alabama.

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