Library of Congress Acknowledges Outstanding Contribution to Promoting Literacy --
"Literacy develops the mind and the heart, engages the intellect and imagination, and builds wide-ranging knowledge of the world." -- Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden
In our previous post, we highlighted the quality of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library's (DPIL) book selection process. So, it seemed fitting to follow-up with none other than the Library of Congress' seal of approval. Over the years, DPIL has received a long list of awards and acknowledgements, and last month, it added yet another. On International Literacy Day, September 8, 2021, DPIL won the top prize in the prestigious Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program. DPIL was awarded The David M. Rubenstein Prize, worth $150,000.
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program
Since 2013, The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has been honoring non-profit organizations for outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in the United States or abroad. The awards are intended to draw attention to the importance of literacy and recognize organizations that are using innovative methods for promoting literacy and encouraging a love of reading. Thus far, the Awards Program has awarded $2,247,250 in prizes to 136 institutions in 36 countries.
The Imagination Library (IL) provides 1.8-million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to children birth to age five around the world. Guided by Dolly's vision to foster a love of reading among young children and their families, The Imagination Library has delivered more than 160-million books to date. The prize honors this phenomenal achievement.
Local Partners Like BEGIN WITH BOOKS are Integral to the Program
The award also recognizes the Imagination Library's innovative use of local partners to champion early literacy and bring books into communities and households that need them most. Local affiliates such as BEGIN WITH BOOKS (BWB), are responsible for promoting the program, raising funds, and enrolling children. The IL then takes care of the rest: coordinates the selection of books (see our previous blog), negotiates wholesale purchasing and the cost of the program's administrative expenses, manages the central database, and coordinates monthly mailings. The books are free to enrolled children because local partners such as BWB have secured funds to cover the cost of the books and the shipping fees. This model allows donors to target their local communities and see firsthand the benefits of their donations.
Numerous literacy programs have been forced to halt or disrupt their usual modes of operation during the pandemic. Not only has DPIL/BWB been able to keep mailing books to children's homes, BWB has actually added 2,711 new enrollments since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020. That's 2,711 babies and young children who will be excited to receive their very own book in the mail each month regardless of their family's income. Given the closures and disruptions to schools, libraries, and early childhood literacy programs over this time, these special home libraries are more vital than ever. And that's not all. BWB's Little Library Initiative has continued throughout, delivering quality, age-appropriate Imagination Library books to elementary schools, pre-K classes, daycares, wellness centers and the like, spreading the magic of books and the love of reading across the community.
Here's what our little readers enrolled in BEGIN WITH BOOKS are receiving in their mailboxes this month --
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-- Caron Bell, PhD, Early Childhood Development and beginwithbooks.org volunteer