14 January 2010
Unique children’s literacy scheme provides free books every month to children under five
London (January 10, 2010) The Westbourne Children’s Centre, in partnership with the Junior League of London and the Dollywood Foundation of the United Kingdom, has launched a free literacy programme, the first of its kind, for children in the Westbourne Ward.
Dolly’s Parton’s Imagination Library is a unique children’s literacy scheme that delivers a free age-appropriate book each month to every registered child under five. The programme is designed to give children an early start on language development and provide a way for parents to connect with their children through the joy of reading. Established in the United States in 1996 by country singer Dolly Parton, Dolly’s Imagination Library has distributed over 22 million books to more than 500,000 children worldwide.
The event on 21 November registered 47 children with the programme; registrants will receive their first book, a copy of Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit” including a letter to each child from Dolly Parton, in the third week of January.
According to a September 2006 report from the London Child Poverty Commissions, Westbourne Ward has the highest rate, 83%, of children dependent on benefits in London. The Junior League of London aims to register 150 children in the Westbourne Children’s Centre by 2010, and hopes to expand the programme in years to come.
Commenting on the launch of the Imagination Library at the Westbourne Children’s Centre, programme founder Dolly Parton said: “It’s my dream that every child has a library of books which their parents can read to them from the day they are born. I’d love for every single child have the opportunity to be part of the programme and I am delighted that another 150 kids will soon be receiving their first book from the Imagination Library.”
Chris Mohrmann, Community Vice President of the Junior League of London, said: “Reading is one of the most vital goals of early childhood education. Our volunteers aim to register all children who visit the Westbourne Children’s Centre in this programme to start building a foundation for their future academic and social success. By delivering classic and favorite children’s books directly to the home, we hope to increase shared reading in families.”
Jeani Jeans, Acting Manager of Westbourne Children’s Centre, said: “The families were very excited to learn that their child would be receiving a book each month in the post. Working with the Junior League of London, we will be offering reading workshops with parents to educate them on the importance of reading to their children and strengthening their involvement in their learning. This will enhance our current services to families in the area.”
About the Junior League of London
The Junior League of London is a UK registered charity comprised of women committed to promoting voluntary service, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. A member of the Association of Junior Leagues International and active in London since 1978, the JLL more than 400 volunteer members who provide more than 20,000 hours of service to the community each year through dedicated programmes that break the cycle of poverty through education and employment. The JLL raises funds through an annual Christmas fair Boutique de Noel (11-12 November 2010), a book for recent arrivals to the capital called Living in London, a week-long shopping event in the Spring (4-28 March 2010) called London Spree, corporate giving, grants, donations, annual fund and members’ dues.
To learn more about the Junior League and its community projects, to buy a 2010 London Spree Card, to purchase a copy of Living in London, or to find out about the JLL’s next New Members’ Course for volunteers – visit HYPERLINK “http://www.jll.org.uk” www.jll.org.uk or phone the Junior League office on 020 7499 8159.
About Dollywood Foundation of the United Kingdom
Established in the United States in 1996 by country singer Dolly Parton, Dolly’s Parton’s Imagination Library is a unique children’s literacy scheme that delivers a free age-appropriate book each month to every registered child under five. The programme is designed to give children an early start on language development and provide a way for parents to connect with their children through the joy of reading. Dolly’s Imagination Library has distributed over 22 million books to more than 500,000 children worldwide. In 2008, Rotherham became the first town in the UK to introduce the scheme, which has now delivered over 100,000 books in the UK.
About Westbourne Children’s Centre The Westbourne Children’s Centre provides services to over 130 families with children under five located in Westbourne Ward as part of the City of Westminster’s children’s centres network. The Centre provides early education and childcare for children under five, child and family health services, family support, including help with parenting skills and help for parents to get back into employment childcare and early education.