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Corporate Grants Help Danbury Kids Get Free Books In Imagination Library

A young reader and his mother visit with award-winning fine artist Ed Little in his art studio in Bridgewater and show him their favorite Imagination Library book, “"My Little Train"” by Satomi Ichikawa.
A young reader and his mother visit with award-winning fine artist Ed Little in his art studio in Bridgewater and show him their favorite Imagination Library book, “"My Little Train"” by Satomi Ichikawa. Photo Credit: Contributed

DANBURY, Conn. -- The Imagination Library program in the greater Danbury region has been awarded $41,600 in combined grants from a number of corporate partners, the United Way of Western Connecticut announced.

The United Way partners with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide an age-appropriate children’s book every month to each child enrolled in the program at no cost to their families. The goal is to eliminate the financial barrier to book ownership that low-income families often face and allow families to build a home library for their young children, many for the first time.

“We are working to close the academic achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. The support of our corporate partners is crucial, and really underscores the significance of supporting early education in our community,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut.

United Way brought the Imagination Library program to Danbury in 2008, and has grown it steadily throughout Western Connecticut, where it is now the largest Imagination Library program in New England.

To date, UWWC has distributed more than 223,000 books to more than 9,000 children throughout Western Connecticut. The program is available to all children from birth through age 4 (children “graduate” on their fifth birthday), in 10 communities: Bethel, Bridgewater, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Stamford, Warren, and Washington.

Pitney Bowes; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Duracell parent company of Procter and Gamble; and Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area made the combined award.

Research studies from national programs such as Reading Is Fundamental and Reach Out and Read have shown that reading aloud to children starting from birth as well as pointing to pictures and sounding out words helps brain development and fosters one-on-one interaction with parents and caregivers.

Imagination Library was started by The Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee to encourage reading with young children at home, and according to their research, has been proven to help prepare children for kindergarten.

UWWC will use the funding from Pitney Bowes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Procter and Gamble, and Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area to help support the program across the region.

For more information, please visit http://www.uwwesternct.org/ .

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