2,074 sign up for free book programme in first days of launch

By Mary Dennehy

THE launch of DOLLY Parton’s Imagination Library in Tallaght has “exceeded expectations”, with more than 2,000 local children signed up to the free book programme within its first five days.

The American country singer’s programme works with local partners to gift books to children and is a success in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK – where it has delivered more than 112 million books.

Dolly Parton launch 1

Cameron Harte (3) from Tallaght with Shamrock Rovers players Daniel Carr, Ronan Finn and Aaron McEneff

Here in Ireland, the programme is being piloted in Tallaght under the co-ordination of the Childhood Development Initiative (CDI), which is based at St Mark’s Youth and Family Centre on Cookstown Lane, Fettercairn.

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

Speaking at the launch of the project in the County Library, Tallaght, last Thursday, CDI Chief Executive Marian Quinn said that the project aims to reach 3,200 Tallaght children with 21,600 books in the first year alone.

However, initial interest in the programme has exceeded expectations, with 2,074 children signed up for the programme within the first five days of its launch.

Each child signed up to Dolly’s Imagination Library will, every month, receive a free, high quality book to keep until they are five.

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

The first books are expected to be delivered in April.

Speaking with The Echo this week, Emma Reilly, CDI’s Ante-natal to three Initiative Co-ordinator, said: “The response has been phenomenal.

“It has exceeded expectations… and it’s amazing that we have managed to reach so many families.

“The programme hopes to capture as many children under the age of five, that’s our aim… and anyone who hasn’t registered [a child] yet is encouraged to get in touch.”

Confirming that 2,074 Tallaght children have been registered for the programme within the first five days, Emma added: “The programme hopes to help with vocabulary building and enhance literacy skills, which will open up a huge variety of opportunities for children.

“The initiative also hopes to help create a space for parents to read to children… and we’ll be providing parents with tips and information on reading to kids as part of the programme.

“We’ll also be connecting the community through reading events in local libraries.”

CDI is co-ordinating the project with support from Shamrock Rovers, An Post and Dublin Rotary Club.

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

Encouraging families to register for the programme, Shamrock Rovers 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.

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

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

CDI are supporting the roll-out of the programme here in Tallaght and have invited local businesses to get involved.

It is hoped that the programme will be replicated in other communities further down the line.

For further information or to register visit www.cdi.ie/imaginationlibrary.

Any local businesses or services who would like to get involved can call CDI on 4940030.

Check out the launch video by scaning the QR code.

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