Alethea Club hears program on Dolly Parton's reading project


The Alethea Club recently met in the Cafe Court at First Baptist Church at Pine Bluff.

New officers were selected and will be installed at the next meeting. Officers are: president, Audrey Borecky; vice president, Ann Adair; recording secretary, Jeanette McGrew; treasurer, Virginia Haertlein; and parliamentarian, Maxine Lane.

The program was presented by Linda Bateman, director of YouthPartners of Jefferson County, who spoke on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. In 1996, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Parton’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families with a gift of a speciality selected book each month. By mailing high quality books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books regardless of their family’s income.

Dolly’s Imagination Library became so popular, that in the year 2000, she announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner wih her to support it locally. Since the initial program launched in the United States, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to nearly 40 million books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom. Currently, over 1,600 local communities provide Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to almost 700,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and reports have shown that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library drastically improves early literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved scores during the early literacy testing.

The program has an onslaught of available resources to help a community start a program including a personal trainer that Imagination Library calls a regional director. Bateman serves as the regional director for Jefferson County.

Preschool children ages birth to 5, who are residents of Jefferson County, are eligible for this program. In order to enroll in the program, a parent or guardian must be a legal resident of Jefferson County and submit an official registration form (approved and on file with YouthPartners of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County). They must also notify YouthPartners any time there is an address change because books are mailed to the address listed on the official registration form. Parents are required to read to the child.

Interested parties can contact Bateman at YouthPartners of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, 211 W. Third Ave. Suite 235, Pine Bluff, Ark., 71601; or call 870-534-8251 for more information and/or to receive an official registration form and/or to make a monetary contribution.

After the program, a formal business meeting was held. The members voted to contribute $100 to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and $50 to the Salvation Army and Neighbor to Neighbor.

A salad luncheon and dessert were served after the meeting. Hostesses were Donna Chisom, Peggie Howard and Maxine Lane.