Building a Community of Book Readers

A Twitter post caught my eye the other day. It was from a local dad who quipped,

“The best part of living in Memphis is the free books Dolly Parton sends my kids each month.

 What a great testimonial for Shelby County Books From Birth program. Once you sign up, your child (from birth to age 5) receives a free children's book each month, mailed directly to your home. Books From Birth purchase their books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program started in 1996 to benefit children in East Tennessee.

Now, approximately 35,000 children in Memphis alone receive books through the program, according to Executive Director Peter Abell. In fact, 52 percent of the children under the age of 5 in Shelby County are enrolled. Those books that can't be delivered to families, roughly 4,000 to 5,000 annually, are redistributed to daycares, health clinics, and community groups across Shelby County.

Parents can be sign up in a variety of ways. Ask for information after you've given birth to your baby at area hospitals, where new parent information packets include a sign-up form. (Kids born through the TennCare system are automatically enrolled.) You can also register at your local library, at area book stores, or sign up from your smart phone by going to the Books From Birth website.       

Each month, your child will be mailed an age-appropriate book. If you have two children under 5, you'll receive two books, each geared to that child's age. It's a great way to introduce children (and parents) to the joys of reading. And over time, this effort will help build our community of book readers.

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