Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library CEO Gina Millsap says it’s important that kids have books at home, even if they can’t read just yet.
“There is significant research showing that children who have books in their home are more reading ready,” said Millsap.
To ensure children in Shawnee County have access to those books, the library has partnered with the United Way and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The partnership allows families to get a book a month, shipped to their house, at no cost to the family.
“The whole community actually raises the money for the books and postage and Dolly Parton’s foundation handles administration and registration on the back end,” said Millsap. “It’s a collaborative effort.”
The program is for kids five and under.
Millsap says there are more than 12,000 kids in Shawnee County that are eligible for the program each year. She said the program makes children more prepared to start school.
“We want to be sure that every single one of them is ready for kindergarten,” said Millsap. “Right now, we know that a fair high percentage of young children entering kindergarten are not ready.”
According to Millsap roughly 35 percent of eligible kids are signed up for the program, but she says the library’s goal is to have all eligible kids enrolled in the program.
Millsap said it takes about two months before families get their first book in the mail.