When I was little, my parents signed me up for a one year membership to a Book-of-the-Month club. I loved it. I got a present every month—just for me. Remembering this, one of the first things I did after I brought my newborn son home from the hospital was sign him up for The Imagination Library. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a non-profit program that provides free books for children from birth to age five. Now, once a month, (among the bills, catalogs, and Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons), we find in our mailbox a most treasured item: a new book. New Book Day is practically a holiday at our house! When we discover a new book in the mailbox, we drop everything and cuddle up on the couch to find out what new adventure we’re in for this time.
Sending kids free books in their early years was the brain child of none other than Ms. Dolly Parton (you may have heard of her). The idea is that reading to children—even in infancy—can stimulate their little brains and help them develop a love of reading at a young age. Ms. Dolly’s father couldn’t read, and she has said that he was very proud of her for promoting literacy and becoming known in certain circles as “The Book Lady.”
The books are designed to be age-appropriate, so early on we got board books, pop up books, and books about counting and colors. As my son has gotten older, he’s been getting books with longer stories and more complex subject matter. Now that he’s learning to read, though, we’re going back to those early books because they’re perfect primers. (I’ve told you about that before, haven’t I?)