Faces of Success: Mindy Hirt & Charlie Pray
Mindy Hirt and Charlie Pray believe in the value of books in the home and reading aloud to their children. The Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program provided them with opportunities to share their love for literacy with their families.
“When my son was born, there was this amazing book waiting for us to read to him,” said Pray.
“I thought it was a great idea to have books delivered each month so I could share them with my children,” said Hirt.
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation partner to operate the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program. It provides one book per month to children from birth through age 5 in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner Counties at no cost to families, regardless of income. If a child is enrolled from birth until their fifth birthday, they will receive a total of 60 books. Since United Way became the local partner in 2013, children in the Imagination Library program’s Middle Tennessee area have received more than 1.1 million books.
Pray vividly remembers what it was like to watch his son receive his book in the mail each month.
“It was better than a present he was expecting around the holidays or his birthday. There was this grand anticipation each month. As he became more aware of what the program was all about, this anticipation only grew.”
Research indicates that children who are read to regularly at home hear twice as many words every year and have 1/3 larger vocabulary by age 3 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.
“Becoming excited at a young age about reading is essential,” said Hirt. “The whole idea of a passion for literacy from cradle to career is the foundation for all things in life.”
Hirt and Pray have always been able to purchase books for their children. Their involvement in the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program has inspired them to help other Middle Tennessee families who aren’t as fortunate.
“As my wife and I reflected on our son’s Imagination Library experience, we agreed it was important to give back to a program that’s had such a profound impact on our family,” said Pray. “I can’t imagine the thought of a child not having the opportunity to become literate.”
“It is important for my family to give back and pay it forward to others who can’t afford to buy books,” said Hirt. “If you can afford to purchase books for your children, please consider giving back to other families in our community through the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee.”
Giving back to the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee is a $60 investment that provides books to a child enrolled in the program from birth until their fifth birthday. This investment also creates opportunities for families to get together and build a love for literacy. Hirt and Pray are grateful for their children’s Imagination Library experiences. They helped them understand and appreciate the value of books.
Click here to donate to the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee