Free book programme for children in Tallaght launched

By Tara McCoy 

DOLLY Parton’s Imagination Library, a charity that works with local partners to gift books to children, was launched in Tallaght Library on Thursday.

The programme, which is already active in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK, has delivered over 112 million books since it commenced and aims to distribute over 21,000 books to 3,200 children in Tallaght within the next year.

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Cameron Harte (3) from Tallaght with Shamrock Rover's club captain Ronan Finn at the launch 

The programme is being piloted in Tallaght under the co-ordination of the Tallaght-based Child Development Initiative (CDI), with support from Shamrock Rovers, An Post and the Dublin Rotary Club.

CDI leads a number of existing community-based projects that focus on family literacy and children’s outcomes, and will integrate the book gifting scheme with these programmes.

“I am really delighted that the Imagination Library is coming to Ireland”, CDI Chief Executive Marian Quinn said.

“We aim to reach 3,200 children with 21,600 books in Dublin 24 in the first year alone.

“Our aim is to then scale up to other parts of the country.”

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Three-year-old Cameron checking out some books with Rovers' players Aaron McEneff and Dan Carr 

A working group has been established to promote the initiative including library staff, public health nurses, and health and education services.

County Library Tallaght, Senior Executive Librarian, Rosena Hand said: “South Dublin Libraries is delighted to support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Dublin 24.

“It is never too early to start reading to your child.

“The children's delight in receiving their free books can be continued by joining their local library which has a wealth of free resources to help them continue to enjoy books and reading!”

Once signed up for the programme, a child will receive a free, high quality book to keep every month until they are five.

The books will be addressed to the child and posted directly to their home, with all children in each household getting different, age-appropriate books.

Encouraging families to register, Shamrock Rovers FC Club Chairman Jonathan Roche said: “We support what is good for local families and our local community in terms of education, health and well-being.

“As a club we are proud to represent the Tallaght community and promote numerous local initiatives.

“This is a brilliant project and we will gladly promote it and encourage families to register.”

The announcement has also been welcomed by Early Childhood Ireland which said it will also promote and encourage the programme’s development. 

Speaking about the programme, singer Dolly Parton said: “I know there are children in Ireland with their own dreams – the dream of becoming a doctor, an inventor, or a teacher.

“Who knows, maybe a writer, or singer.

“The seeds of these dreams can often be found in books and the seeds planted in a community can grow across the world.”

To programme is now live and for further information on registration visit the Childhood Development Initiative website at www.cdi.ie/imaginationlibrary.

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