Delta Health Alliance is now in the ninth year of our partnership with the Dolly Parton Foundation to operate the Imagination Library program in the Delta. Currently more than 3,000 children in Bolivar, Sunflower and Washington counties are receiving books, an increase of 120% over the 1,300 who were receiving books in 2013. In Sunflower County alone, more than 2,400 children have been part of the program since its inception.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, new kindergarten students at the elementary school in Indianola took a school readiness assessment. The results of the assessment give teachers and school officials information about the prereading and pre-math skills of each student, which they use to help design the kindergarten curriculum.
Meanwhile, as part of the kindergarten registration process, parents of these students completed a kindergarten entry survey that determined whether or not they participated in the Imagination Library program. With the kindergarten readiness scores from the assessment, we were able to compare the readiness scores of the group of children who received Imagination Library books with the group of children who did not participate in the Imagination Library program.
Participating children, age 0-5, receive a free book each month. Through the Imagination Library program, it is possible for a child to receive 60 early reader and picture books before ever entering kindergarten.