According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the peak period for children developing neural connections related to language is around nine months of age. One of the easiest and most effective ways to build the language neural connections in a young child’s brain is to read to them.
Lancaster County First Steps is the local sponsor of Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides free age-appropriate books to children age birth to 5 years. Operated by the Dollywood Foundation, Imagination Library is currently in more than 1,600 communities internationally and mails books to about 700,000 children each month.
Children who register with Lancaster County First Steps receive one book per month by mail through the month of their fifth birthday. All books are quality, age-appropriate books carefully selected for each age group by a committee of educational specialists.
More about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:
• Lancaster County children in this program (Ages birth to 5) receive one age appropriate book per month.
• Currently 1,000 children are receiving books, but 5,207 children in Lancaster are eligible for the program.
• The greatest at-risk children are targeted, but all Lancaster County children under 5 years of age are eligible.
• The cost to administer is only $30 per year per child.
Why Imagination Library Works:
A 2007 study found that the more that mothers read to their children the greater the gains for children’s vocabulary and cognitive ability such that, by age 3 (when children begin to be interested in pre-reading activities), mothers who had been reading daily during the preceding two years had children with significantly elevated language and cognitive scores.
The Effects of Early Reading with Parents on Developing Literacy Skills, National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2007.
Please call the Lancaster County First Steps’s office at (803) 286-8000 to sign up. Or you can sign up online at Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Here is a list of the information that is required: name of child, birth date of child, name of parent, mailing address, phone number and email address.