Dolly Parton praises Nottingham's free book scheme for children

The Imagination Library aims to improve children’s literacy levels so that they are more likely to be ready to start school when they turn five.

Councillor David Mellen with the 5,000th child to receive the free books, baby Remae Gordon-Goode, with dad Raelle, mum Melanie and sister Kyron (Image: Nottingham City Council)

A scheme that gives free books to children has reached a major milestone in Nottingham – and been praised by the charity’s founder Dolly Parton.

A total of 5,000 children aged five and under in Nottingham are now on the register to receive a free book every month from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The book-gifting scheme currently covers 10 of the city’s 20 wards. Reaching 5,000 children each month for the first time marks a significant milestone for the Imagination Library in Nottingham.

Country music star and founder, Dolly Parton, has praised the city for its ongoing efforts to ensure children receive free books.

She said: “Hi Nottingham… Congratulations on yet another success. You are truly special because there are not many programs in the world that provide a book each month to over 5,000 children. So thank you from the bottom of my country heart for all you have done to inspire your children to love books and love learning.”

The Imagination Library aims to improve children’s literacy levels so that they are more likely to be ready to start school when they turn five.

Age appropriate books are delivered addressed to the child every month from birth, allowing them to build up a library of 60 books over five years.

The vision of the Imagination Library was first launched in Nottingham in 2009 by a teaching assistant in Wollaton.

Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to help to co-ordinate fundraising which enabled the Imagination Library to be set up in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough in 2012.

The 5,000th child to receive the free books in Nottingham was baby Remae Gordon-Goode from Sneinton.

Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years in Nottingham who represents the Dales Ward for Labour, said: “This is a significant milestone for our city. The scheme has grown and grown: it is an incredible achievement to have 5,000 children now receiving the free books every month.

“We continue to fundraise for the charity as our ambition is clear: we want every child in Nottingham to receive a free book every month.”

Councillor Mellen is currently undertaking a Big Reading Challenge for the Imagination Library in Nottingham – aiming to read to 5,000 children in 50 days to raise £5,000 for the charity between January 28 and March 18.

He said: “Reading to 5,000 children over 50 days is an ambitious challenge but it’s a cause I feel strongly about.

“Our children deserve the best possible start in life. We know that reading with children is one of the best ways to set them up for a bright future.

“Not all Nottingham children have access to a range of books in their home and we know that sharing stories regularly can help children be ready for nursery, by which time we know that some Nottingham children are already behind in their development in comparison to their peers.

“This charity ensures that every child receives a free book every month. It’s about giving our children the joy of reading.”

Councillor Mellen is appealing for sponsorship money and hopes to raise at least £5,000 for the Imagination Library. Every donation helps:

    £2 can pay for a child to get a new book
    £25 can pay for a child to get a new book each month for a year
    £125 pays for a child to get a book every month from birth until their 5th birthday

To make a donation visit Councillor Mellen’s fundraising page http://www.gofundme.com/bigreadingchallenge

The Nottingham scheme is supported by local organisations: The Rotary Club of Nottingham, Castle Cavendish, Small Steps Big Changes

http://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/dolly-parton-praises-nottinghams-free-2548270