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Char-Em United Way

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Would you like to share the joy of reading with a young child? 

Char-Em United Way is the proud sponsor of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for Charlevoix & Emmet Counties. The program provides a free, age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age 5.

  • The program is free to all kids birth to age 5 who live in Charlevoix or Emmet Counties or who participate in a pre-school program but live in an adjacent county.
  • The books are mailed each month directly to the child at his or her home.
  • There is no income eligibility. The program is free to all children regardless of ability to pay.

Imagine the magic when kids run to kindergarten bookshelves, pick up a familiar book and say "I have this book!" and then every other kid in the room says, "me too!" Teachers tell us this level of shared experience and vocabulary makes a world of difference in the success of our schools by eliminating the current three-year discrepancy seen in pre-literacy skills. And the research shows teachers' instinct are correct: with as little as four months of Imagination Library home delivery, a 28.9% increase in kindergarten preparedness was measured in Onondaga County, NY! Our local schools are partnering with us to show measure the impact locally.

How to enroll a child:
Families can enroll their child online or ask us for a brochure.

Why is reading so important at this age?

  • Reading books help essential brain development, with 90% of eventual adult brain growth is achieved the first three years of a child’s life
  • A child develops language skills long before being able to speak, literacy skills long before they are able to read, and reading books help develop healthy physical and emotional responses
  • Helps ensure children enter kindergarten with a strong ability to read and an eagerness to learn
  • Strengthens the literacy level in our community
  • Promotes parent-child interaction and bonding
  • DPIL communities report families read more to their children, reading scores have  mproved, children are excited and better prepared to go to school
  • CEUW has decided that investment in early childhood literacy will provide one of the best ‘return on investment’ we can get.

Beyond the Books  -- We know it’s not enough to just mail the books to kids
The project also includes:

  • Family literacy activities
  • Partnerships with Head Starts, other pre-schools
  • Library programs
  • “Graduation” activities
  • Mailings with tips and invitations for parents

Want to help?
Registration for the program has greatly outpaced our projections and budget.  Please conisder making a donation to support books for one or more kids or just make a general donation.
It costs $30/year to enroll a child - $150 over the five year period.
Donate to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library


Click Here to donate in memory of a loved one.





We thank the Petoskey Harbor Springs Community Foundation for their support of this program with a 2016-17 grant, approved by their Youth Advisory Council