A campaign in Nottingham which delivers free books to children has just passed its 100,000 milestone.
Nottingham City Council has been working alongside the Rotary Club of Nottingham to co-ordinate fundraising for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library since the Club chose to adopt the scheme as a project in 2012.
Since then, donations have increased to see more and more local children benefiting – and now the 100,000th book has been sent out in Nottingham.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library delivers a free book for a child to keep and read with their family. They receive these from birth until their fifth birthday.
There are now almost 4,000 local children registered with the scheme. It currently runs in seven wards across Nottingham and will shortly be extended to Bridge and Dales.
The scheme is run in Nottingham as a partnership between the City Council, the Rotary Club of Nottingham, Castle Cavendish and Small Steps Big Changes.
Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at Nottingham City Council, said: “Reaching this milestone is an amazing achievement. There are now 100,000 more children’s books filling up bookcases across the city – helping to inspire the imaginations and vocabulary of close to 4,000 local children.
“This is all down to the efforts of our fundraisers and partners, and I’d like to pay tribute to all the hard work that has gone into that.
“It’s so important. The free book is about more than just reading; it is dedicated time that parents are spending with their children, developing a love of books at an early age. As well as the close bond this fosters in families, it can also help with language development.
“However, we need to ensure that people continue to support this charity. We have already seen the scheme extended across Nottingham but in time we would like to see these free books go to every child under five in the city.”
Local data shows that Nottingham children are likely to start school with reading skills up to 14% behind the national average, while research in the United States indicates that children who have been on the scheme for three years or more are 28% more ‘school ready’ than those who have not received the books.
Rotary Club Past President Leonard Gelblum said: “Imagination Library is an excellent example of the public, private and voluntary sectors working together to raise the level of literacy in our community.
“This early intervention scheme lays the foundation by getting books into children’s hands and preparing them to read before entering the education system. The long-term benefits of being able to read will help everybody.”
Luke Murray, Programme Manager at Small Steps Big Changes, said: “This is great news for Nottingham children and we are delighted to be contributing to this achievement.
“Small Steps Big Changes is committed to delivering Imagination Library books to Nottingham children over the next 10 years. Children love receiving the books addressed to them through the door each month, and they are a brilliant resource for parents and workforce to interact with children and have a lovely time together.
“We hope that the scheme will build a love of books and reading among a new generation in Nottingham.”
Dave Brennan, chief executive at Castle Cavendish, added: “By using funds generated by our property portfolio, Castle Cavendish tries to change people’s lives for the better. We feel we’re on to a winner with the Imagination Library, helping children reach their potential and improve literacy levels across the City. We’re proud to be part of this exciting partnership.”
Donations are always welcome. Just £2 a month is enough to ensure a child gets their free book. Alternatively, a one-off donation of just £25 will pay for one child to receive a free book delivered to their home each month for an entire year.