Kids in Montgomery County can get free books with new program

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine reads to children, Wednesday Dec 18 at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Sarah Cavender/Staff Photo

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Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine reads to children, Wednesday Dec 18 at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Sarah Cavender/Staff Photo

Children in Montgomery County can receive free books at their home thanks to a program launched by the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program.

On Wednesday, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine announced the program that will be a partnership between Dayton Children’s Hospital, Montgomery County and other local agencies.

“In the Miami Valley, we actually have a lot of counties that have already signed up. And now I feel like we have the main piece right here in the middle now that we have Dayton,” said DeWine, who has been pushing the program statewide.

The program provides free books to local children four years old and younger each month. When it’s sent in the mail it is addressed to the child. It’s a partnership with the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The program will partially be financed by Montgomery County and Dayton Children’s Hospital. With the county pledging $125,000 over the next three years and Dayton Children’s $90,000.

“They [the children] are our next workforce,” Montgomery County Commission President Debbie Lieberman said. “This program makes reading available to anyone.”

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Charles Harden and daughter Kayla Harden on Wednesday Dec 18, sign up for the Imagination Library program. Marshall Gorby/Staff Photo

Charles Harden and daughter Kayla Harden on Wednesday Dec 18, sign up for the Imagination Library program. Marshall Gorby/Staff Photo

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Charles Harden and daughter Kayla Harden on Wednesday Dec 18, sign up for the Imagination Library program. Marshall Gorby/Staff Photo

“Research is showing more and more that the first five years are absolutely critical in the lifelong success of a child, programs like Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, are really important and positive steps in helping children develop literacy,” CEO and President of Dayton Children’s Deborah Feldman said.

The program is aimed at improving literacy and early learning opportunities for children. The registration will be available to anyone in Montgomery County.

Many parents with young children attended the announcement that was held in Dayton Children’s Hospital where they could enroll in the program, followed by a story read by DeWine.

Of the parents who signed up, Charles Harden registered his three-year-old daughter Kayla.

“The program is going to embark on having a future where literacy is one of the foundations, it’ll be something she likes to do and help with her development,” Harden said.

For Erich Koenig, father to 20-month-old Jane and four-year-old Louise, it’s about highlighting the importance of education.

“Education has always been valued in our family, so learning to read and reading to our children has been a priority,” Koenig said.

Other community partners include United Way of Greater Dayton, Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, CareSource and Dayton Metro Library.

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