PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Children in Pittsburgh are now able to get free books every month as part of a new program set up by Mayor Bill Peduto’s Administration.
Through a $250,000 grant from the Benter Foundation, the Pittsburgh City Council has officially opened an affiliate chapter of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The singer first launched the monthly book giving program for children in 1995 through her Dollywood Foundation.
“Any child in the city under five [is eligible],” says Dan Gilman, Peduto’s chief of staff. “And once you sign up and you’re verified as a city resident for the next five years, every month, they’ll be a book in your mailbox for your child.”
Regardless of income, city kids — from birth to age five — will be able to sign up for a free age-appropriate book every month personally addressed to them, says Dollywood Foundation president Jeff Conyers. Parents can enroll their children for the program by going here.
“The very first book that every child receives is “The Little Engine That Could,” says Conyers. “It’s Dolly’s favorite and she often describes herself as the little engine that did.”
“It encourages parents and kids to sit down together, that human contact, the bonding with the mother and father with the child is fantastic,” adds Gilman, himself the father of two young children. “And then, of course, a child with a library is more likely to be an early reader, and we all know the benefits for life that come with that.”
Amazingly, Dolly Parton’s foundation has already distributed 115 million books, and she herself has participated in book readings to kids, including a book she wrote and sings, “My Coat of Many Colors.”