Grants Available For Imagination Libraries

Photo courtesy of Best Beginnings: The Imagination Library in Barrow.

A program that brings books to kids across Alaska is accepting grant proposals. Best Beginnings is giving away funds to communities who want to start Imagination Libraries and expand existing ones.

Here’s how it works. You sign up and once a month, your child receives a great new book in the mail for free. There’s no catch, it’s that simple. Dolly Parton started the Imagination Libraries in her home state of Tennessee to increase literacy. Since then, it’s spread to many other states and to several other countries. The program gives kids a book a month through the mail from birth through age five. Barbara Brown is with Best Beginnings, the organization that helps set up the libraries in Alaska. She says the program is taking off.

“Alaska, we found out this past summer, is the star of the show. We are growing faster than any of the states in the imagination libraries,” Brown said.

So far, there are 27 local Imagination Libraries across Alaska, covering 80 communities. The first one was in Hoonah in 2003. The newest ones are in Togiak, Anchor Point, Copper River Valley and Venetie. Brown wants to keep that momentum going.

“Alaska has 17,000 children signed up that get a book in the mail, every month now. And that is one third of the entire population of children under the age of five in the state of Alaska. We really are reaching out everywhere and we want to get every village signed up and all their children enrolled,” Brown said.

If you want an Imagination Library in your community, Brown says it takes five committed people to apply for a grant.

“If they can find five people to take up those five jobs, then I’m ready to work with them to set up an imagination library. So the jobs are things like somebody has to enroll the children, somebody has to put them in the database, somebody has work with the post office and people have to do fundraising to try and contribute from their community to keep the program going,” Brown said.

Applications are also being accepted to expand existing Imagination Libraries. To learn more about Imagination Libraries and how to bring them to your community, go to Applications must be received by 5pm, Friday March 30.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.