Fall Imagination Library Newsletter: October 2020

Photo of parents with toddler son reading a book

Last month, we gathered virtually to be inspired and raise funds for the Imagination Library at our 6th annual “luncheon.” Together, we raised $36,514!

Thank you for celebrating the program with our featured speakers Bob Welch, Andre Royal, Shelley Smolnisky, Marlene Iverson, and Meagan and Easton (our Imagination Library family)! Click on these names to view their videos from the event. 

Founded by Dolly and funded 100% locally by donors like you, the program is always free for all participants. This fall we’ll continue to raise awareness of the program, and will focus on outreach and engagement of bilingual English/Spanish families. 

In this newsletter: 
A Note from Our Advisory Board Chairs
Family Spotlight: Pax, Troy, and Ashley
Donor Spotlight: Cindy Nelson 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Upcoming Activities

In past newsletters, we’ve talked about all the benefits of the Imagination Library. We’d like to discuss one more in this newsletter. As first-grade teachers, we used to assess “concept of print” or “book awareness” skills. These are skills that are essential before a child can get down to the “nitty gritty” of reading. 

Children acquire these skills through shared reading in early childhood. Seeing books that are different sizes and with different fonts, seeing you hold a book correctly, watching you turn the pages until you get to the end and seeing you point to words is the way children acquire these essential skills. You are giving them the skills they need to be successful readers just by reading to them. 

Book Awareness Skills developed in early literacy

• Does a child understand that print relays a message? 
• Does a child hold a book the right way up? 
• Can they point to the front cover? Back cover? 
• Can they tell you the title of the story or point to it?
• Can they tell you what the story is about? 
• Do they start at the beginning of the book and know how to turn the pages until they reach the end?
• Do they understand that one starts reading on the left side of the page and moves to the right? 
• Do they have the concept of first, middle, and end? Can they point to a word? 
• Do they know that words are separated by spaces?

Marlene & Shelley
Imagination Library of Eugene Advisory Board Co-Chairs
(Pictured above at their high school reunion in 2019.)

Pax is turning four next month, and he was enrolled in the Imagination Library the month he was born. Pax’s favorite part of the Imagination Library is getting the books in the mail, especially with his name on it. He always recognizes Imagination Library books because of Dolly’s picture on the inside. Here’s a little more about Pax and his parents, Troy and Ashley. 

How long have you participated in the Imagination Library? Pax is 3 years and 8 months so I signed him up the month he was born. We got the first book just a few months after he was born. After I heard about it I signed up right away. We didn’t really even experience a delay in getting his first book – it came really quickly.

What did your son like the most about the Imagination Library? I think he loves getting stuff in the mail and especially anything that arrives for him with his name on it. He loves to check mail with his daddy and enjoys all the books he gets. He always recognizes which of his books are Imagination Library books because of Dolly’s picture on the inside. He just loves these books.

What did you enjoy most about the Imagination Library? I love that it adds to our existing library. It’s a good mix of classic books you’ve heard of and ones that are not on your radar. You don’t really know what to expect from a free program but the quality of writing and illustrations is always really great. I’ve been impressed by the diversity in the books; it’s very noticeable and unusual.

Another thing I’ve enjoyed myself is the books arriving in the mail. I don’t even have to think about it and the best part is that the books tend to arrive when I am least expecting it and have kind of forgotten about them. It’s like a little surprise each month.

What would you like people to know about participating in the Imagination Library? I want everyone to know that it’s available and free. There’s no reason not to sign up – I tell everyone I know about it. Just to be able to add free books to our collection every month is such an exciting thing. It’s a treat. I know Pax has really enjoyed it. 

On the other side, the more practical side, I think it’s interesting that it doesn’t take that much to support a kid being in the program from 0-5. The fundraising book cost is so low, it’s such an easy program to support.

What would you do when the books would arrive each month? Usually Troy, his dad, takes him out to the mailbox every day because he likes checking the mail to see if he got anything. When he gets a book, we unwrap it right away and tuck the book away on the stairs and wait to read it together at bedtime. Sometimes he’s so excited to read it we don’t wait until bedtime, but most of the time that’s our little special ritual.

What do you think are the benefits of your family reading together? When we share stories we can see how Pax is so creative and a storyteller in his own life and we all get to be creative together. I think it’s so important just being physically close and creating space for quiet time and calmness right before bed. His imagination is just kind of off the charts and I think that really comes from our storytime at night

How did you feel about the book selections? Great! Honestly, in almost four years of receiving a book every month  the quality of the books has been excellent. So many amazing books in four years. My inclination as a parent would be to buy classics generally. The bilingual books – I always love those. The books were always so appropriate for his age. 

Are there any books that really stood out to you? One that’s really a favorite is Goodnight Gorilla. It was really at the beginning of language development, and its story that has no actual words. So I would make up the story since it had no words and I could really see how he was starting to associate the story I made up with the images in the book. When I would get to the part with the elephant, he would pick up his stuffed elephant. He loves I Hear a Pickle there’s just been so many other great books that he loves. He gets attached to them as they come and go. 

When we went on vacation a little while ago, I brought three of Pax’s favorite books which were all Imagination Library books. They got left at the airport and I, of course, had to replace them since they were his favorites. I bought all three of them off of Amazon and in total it cost about $50 to replace them. It really illustrated the quality of the books and what a great deal this program really is.

I want everyone to know that it’s available and free. There’s no reason not to sign up – I tell everyone I know about it.– Ashley

Cindy Nelson is a member of the Imagination Library Advisory Board, and an educator and advocate for early literacy. 

Becoming a member of the Imagination Library Board felt like going back to my roots. I have taught preschool and kindergarten and later became a family literacy specialist. While working for a national family literacy organization, I learned about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

In 1995 the Dollywood Foundation launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to serve her home county and in 2000 they began a national replication effort. I became aware of the Imagination Library in 2002 when the Dollywood Foundation added the Native American community. The organization I worked for provided family literacy services through the Bureau of Indian Education and we were able offer IL services to enrolled children. In the years that followed the IL expanded throughout the US and later to many other countries. As of this fall, over 145 million books have been gifted to young readers. They also offer audio and books in Braille. (imaginationlibrary.com)

Dolly Parton wanted to encourage a love of reading for the youngest among us. She created the IL as a tribute to her father. “Before he passed away, my Daddy told me that the IL was probably the most important thing I had ever done. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.” 

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has been providing books for children birth to 5 in the Eugene community for the past six years. I feel it is a privilege to be a part of the Imagination Library Advisory Board and know that young children are learning the love of reading.

Since welcoming so many new people to the family of Imagination Library supporters at the virtual luncheon, we wanted to share some of the frequently asked questions about the program!

Ranging from the number of children joining the program each month (averaging 141) to the annual cost of the program (approximately $90,000), these questions cover the program from A to Z! 

One of our favorite questions:

How can I get involved with the Imagination Library Advisory Board? 
We are looking for Advisory Board members to support our volunteer efforts to fundraise, recruit new children, build partnerships, and spread the word about the program. If you are interested in joining the Imagination Library Advisory Board,  please email reed@eplfoundation.org.

Click here for the FAQ! 

Please let us know if you have any other questions about the program or how to get involved! 

Click the image for a video announcement from Dolly about her Imagination Library documentary, “The Library That Dolly Built: Celebrating the People Who Made Dolly’s Dream Come True,” that will premiere on December 9, at 4 p.m. PST exclusively on Facebook.

In Conversation with Experts and Enthusiasts
2nd Friday of each month from 12-1pm
(FREE event) 

Join the Foundation and a variety of guest speakers for a new virtual monthly event series via Zoom.  We’ll host virtual lunch break conversations on a variety of topics of local interest connected to the ever delightful quest for knowledge and inspiration.

The next monthly event in the series will be on Friday, November 13th at 12pm, and will feature Cheryl Hartup, Curator of Academic Programs and Latin American and Caribbean Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and UO student + JSMA intern Wendy Echeverría García as they discuss Transcultural Bridges and Political Activism: Mexico and the Graphic Arts, 1929-1956.

To register and read about the speaker series, please visit our event page. 

The Bookish Brain Virtual Trivia Night: Round 3
Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 6pm
We’re hosting the next Bookish Brain Trivia Night this weekend on Zoom. Show off your costumes, share your wide-ranging knowledge, and raise funds for the Eugene Public Library while competing for prizes (and bragging rights). Join as a team of 4-6 people, or as an individual to be matched to a team. Buy your tickets before it sells out!

The devastation of the Holiday Farm Fire has affected an entire community of our neighbors and friends in Blue River and surrounding areas. The O’Brien Memorial Library and its collection was destroyed in the fire. The volunteer library had been a beacon in Blue River for nearly 100 years and its Board of Directors is making plans for a new library for their community. 

100% of funds given through the trivia night link and the proceeds from this trivia night will be donated to the O’Brien Memorial Library .

Sign up for the Imagination Library today and receive a free book delivered to your home until your reader turns five. The first book arrives in 6-8 weeks and then after, enjoy monthly books delivered to your home. For more information on the Imagination Library of Eugene, please visit our website.

Eugene Public Library Foundation is proud to endorse the local option library levy ballot measure on the November 3, 2020 ballot.Renewal will ensure the Eugene Public Library continues to be a powerful free resource for everyone without raising taxes. People turn to libraries during challenging economic times. Funding from the levy will help our community recover together and support students’ success when they need it most. 

For more information and to join the campaign, visit librariesforeveryonevoteyes.org.

Follow us on social media for Foundation and Library news, literary laughs, and more. 

The Imagination Library of Eugene is a partnership between the Eugene Public Library and the Eugene Public Library Foundation. Books are curated and shipped by the Dollywood Foundation. Founded by Dolly Parton and funded by donors like you through gifts to the Eugene Public Library Foundation, this program has a profound impact on early childhood literacy locally.