The total of all classes combined saw 61 percent of those not in Imagination Library pass the third grade reading assessments, compared to 64 percent of those who were in Imagination Library.
Looking at the two highest levels of the five scoring bands on the test, “accelerated” and “advanced,” 52 percent of Imagination Library children scored in those two highest ranges, compared to 42 percent of children who were not in Imagination Library, Gordon said.
Brenda Herring, a mother of four children, is a big believer in the program. Her two oldest children, Clayton, 8, and Addyson, 7, received free books and her two youngest children, Bryson, 3, and Rylee, 14 months, are receiving books, she said.
She recently met with Clayton’s second-grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School and was told he tested at 99 percent in reading. She credited the Imagination Library program for her son’s success and believes her other three children will see similar results.
“This is all because he loves reading,” Herring said. “It started way back at the beginning. Reading is huge. Books are so important.”
Herring typically reads to her children twice a day, before their afternoon nap and before bedtime.
“It’s been a blessing,” she said of the program. “Reading has prepared them more for school.”
To participate in the program, a child must be under the age of 5 and reside within the Middletown, Monroe, Edgewood, Madison or Franklin school district boundaries. A different age-appropriate, expert-select book arrives in the child’s mailbox each month at no cost to participating families regardless of income. Parents may register using a paper form available from the MCT or online at imaginationlibrary.com.
About 3,500 children, roughly half of the area’s population under 5, are enrolled in the program, which has served just under 10,000 local kids since inception in January 2008, Gordon said.
The 200,000 books that have been distributed to children have had a market value of about $1.75 million, Gordon said, but cost the MCF $430,000 to provide to local children thanks to the program’s partnership with the Dollywood Foundation.
HOW TO GO
WHAT: Let Imagination Bloom Chapter VIII
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 8
WHERE: Central Connections, 3907 Central Ave., Middletown
COST: $30. Reservation deadline is March 24. Call 513-424-7369.
WHAT'S HAPPENING: The event will feature a meet and greet with area children's authors, numerous raffle baskets, a live auction, a meal, and a keynote address by author, illustrator and designer Beth Gully. All proceeds benefit the Middletown-area affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, buying books for local children. Tax-deductible contributions may also be made to the Middletown Community Foundation for the program.