OKLAHOMA CITY – Now that Oklahoma’s Imagination Library will be expanding to all 77 counties, the legislators who authored the measure creating the state’s program are working to help spread the news. Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow and Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, were co-authors of the 2020 legislation.
The Imagination Library is the creation of singer, songwriter, actress and author, Dolly Parton who started the program in her home state of Tennessee. The Imagination Library has since been replicated across the country and around the world and continues to grow. After hearing Parton speak about her reading initiative at a conference in 2019, Haste and Townley began working to create an Imagination Library program in Oklahoma, and their bill was signed into law in 2020. The bill created the revolving fund to help develop and promote the Imagine Library in Oklahoma, and directed it to be administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
OSDE recently announced $2.5 million would be available to capture matching funds in communities throughout the state to pay for the cost of the books, postage, and other related expenses. So far, some 13 partners are helping provide funds to bring the Imagination Library to local communities, with more partners expected to join soon.
Haste and Townley marked the statewide expansion of the program this week by reading to one of Oklahoma’s newest members, 4-month-old Finn Kavanagh, of Oklahoma City, who listened attentively to the story “Good Morning, Farm Friends,” one of the many books included in the Imagination Library each child receives. (Video linked here)
“It’s easy to sign up, and starting from birth through age five, free age-appropriate books will be mailed directly to each child monthly,” Haste said. “It’s an amazing program that’s been proven to help foster a love of books and reading that will help kids succeed in school and throughout their lives. It also gives parents and grandparents just one more important way they can bond with their children and grandchildren.”
“I love that the first book in the series is ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ What a positive message for kids to hear right from the start,” Townley said. “The last book is ‘Kindergarten, Here I Come!,’ and it includes a link to a message from Dolly, urging children to keep on reading and to check out their local libraries for even more great books. We’re so excited for all the possibilities this program will open up for Oklahoma children.”
To enroll your child in the Imagination Library, you can go to https://sde.ok.gov/imagination-library. If the program is not yet available in your area, you can leave your email address for future notifications of availability.
For more information, contact:
Sen. John Haste at 405-521-5602 or email John.Haste@oksenate.gov.
Rep. Tammy Townley at 405-557-7326 or email Tammy.Townley@okhouse.gov.
CUTLINE: Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, read to one of the newest members of Oklahoma’s Imagination Library, 4-month-old Finn Kavanagh, of Oklahoma City. The book, “Good Morning, Farm Friends,” is among the books sent free to children monthly from birth to age five, and has been proven to help children become better readers. Haste and Townley authored the 2020 legislation bringing the program to Oklahoma.