This is Delta Health Alliance’s longest running program. We are now into the eighth year of our partnership with the Dolly Parton Foundation to provide the Imagination Library program in the Delta, which calls for mailing a free book, each month, to any participating family before their child turns five. Currently more than 1,450 children in Bolivar, Sunflower and Washington counties are receiving books. Through the Imagination Library program, it is possible for a child to receive 60 early reader and picture books before ever entering kindergarten! In Sunflower County alone, more than 2,400 children have been part of the program since its inception.
Funded by the US Department of Education and Monsanto Corporation, DHA’s Imagination Library program staff enrolls children and performs community readings at local schools and learning centers. In this way, children are exposed to reading who may not be enrolled in the program and children who fit the age requirement can be enrolled regardless of income. Books are also available in Braille and in audio version for children who are blind or visually impaired.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, new kindergarten students at the elementary school in Indianola took a school readiness assessment called the Measure of Academic Performance (MAP). The results of the MAP assessment give teachers and school officials information about the pre-reading 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 survey that determined whether or not they participated in the Imagination Library program. With the kindergarten readiness scores from the MAP 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
According to the data, 62% of the students who were above the norm for the reading portion of the MAP test participated in the Imagination Library program, compared to only 38% who did not participate. In other words, a child who participated in the Imagination Library early reading intervention was nearly twice as likely to be kindergarten ready in reading as a child who did not receive the Imagination Library program.
These differences are even more pronounced on the pre-math portion of the assessment. Here, 71% of the students who scored above the norm were Imagination Library participants, compared to only 29% of students who were not. In other words, Imagination Library kids were two and a half times as likely to be kindergarten ready.
A child who participates in the Imagination Library early reading intervention is twice as likely to be kindergarten ready in reading and more than two and a half times as likely to be kindergarten ready in math as a child who is not.