United Way calls on community to expand free book program to young children

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — United Way of Northwest Louisiana is calling on you to provide more local children with books to help improve their reading scores.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is offered to eligible children under the age of 5.

Since 2016, the free book program has grown exponentially and expanded into five new parishes.

UWNWLA’s President and CEO, Bruce Willson says the growth happened quickly.

Willson said, “We are thrilled to offer this needed educational program to new families, however, our fundraising efforts were outpaced by the demand for the program. Imagination Library is currently at capacity, and we are
heavily seeking new partners to support the program.”

Although Willson says the program is at capacity, children currently enrolled will continue to receive books until their fifth birthday.

Registration for new families is closed temporarily until additional sponsors have been identified and secured.

This nationally recognized program sends a new high-quality, age-appropriate book each month to a child’s home at no cost to the family.

If enrolled at birth, a child can receive their own personal library of 60 books.

Research has shown that the number of books in a child’s home is significantly linked to reading scores – the more books, the better the score.

Last August, Atmos Energy provided the seed funding to expand the program to Sabine Parish.

Atmos Energy Manager of Public Affairs Ann Hayward said, “Atmos Energy is committed to supporting educational development to benefit the communities where our employees live and work. Since seeing the positive results Imagination Library has had in other parishes, we were confident this would be a good investment for the families in our area as well.”

Imagination Library inspires families to read more frequently to their children and catalyze communities to invest more time, talent and treasures to better prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

Imagination Library is currently eligible to families in the parishes of Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster.

To sponsor a child, visitunitedwaynwla.org/dpil. For questions about becoming an Imagination Library partner, contact Jennifer Horton, Vice President of Community Impact at Impact@unitedwaynwla.org.

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