Faces of Success: Imagination Library Newborns
Moments can pass by in the blink of an eye. Other times, they last forever. Susan Fair makes the most of the minutes she has with new parents at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital.
“For me, it’s usually a very quick encounter, but it’s also a very rewarding experience,” she said.
Fair has been volunteering at the hospital for three weeks. During that time, she’s enrolled dozens of newborns in the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program. It provides one book per month to children from birth to age five in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner Counties at no cost to families, regardless of income.
“Their eyes light up when we talk to them about how the Imagination Library can impact their child’s education,” said Fair. “The Imagination Library gives these babies a great start before they even leave the hospital.”
Participants enrolled at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital receive their first book before they go home, provided through a United Way partnership with the Saint Thomas Foundation and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. One additional age-appropriate book arrives in the mail every month, with United Way covering the cost of the remaining 59 books. All Imagination Library program participants enrolled from birth until their fifth birthday receive a total of 60 books.
“This is a great service provided by United Way and its partners. When we hand a new parent that first book, “The Little Engine That Could,” you can see that it takes them back to their childhood. They get to share early reading memories with their new son or daughter.”
The Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program created lasting memories and provided books to more than 35,000 children in the program’s service area last year. More than 416,000 books were distributed through the program in 2015.
Books build and strengthen the educational foundations of Middle Tennessee’s littlest learners. Research shows that children who are read to regularly at home hear twice as many words every year and have 1/3 larger vocabulary by age three than children who are not read to at home. This is important because children who have not developed basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years. As a mother of two, Fair knows how important reading aloud to children really is.
“I’m witnessing the effectiveness of reading to young children all over again. It’s great to see organizations working together to help prepare Middle Tennessee children for future educational success at school.”
Children grow up in the blink of an eye, but the transformative impact of the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program on a child lasts forever. That’s why volunteers like Fair are critical to the sustained growth and success the program has experienced in recent years. When it comes to a child’s education, every minute counts.
For more information about the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program or United Way of Metropolitan Nashville volunteer opportunities, please visit: http://www.unitedwaynashville.org