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State of Arkansas House of Representatives Weekly Column

Research tells us that 61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes. Middle-income homes have an average of 13 books per child.

On average, children in poverty have been exposed to only 25 hours of one-on-one reading, compared to middle-class children who have been exposed to 1,000-1,700 hours of one-on-one reading. Only 48% of young children are read to daily.

Exposure to books provides significant academic advantages as 85% of the brain is developed between the ages of 3-5.

To provide Arkansas families with more resources, a state 501 (c) (3) partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in July 2017. Arkansas is 1 of 4 states to partner with the organization.

In 1995, singer-songwriter Dolly Parton launched the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. The new program gave each child from birth to age 5 a specially selected book each month.

The program has expanded and now delivers 1.4 million books each month to children nationwide.

Recently, the House and Senate Education Committees were updated on the progress of the Arkansas Imagination Library.

Approximately, 39,000 books are delivered each month to Arkansas children enrolled in the program. And in the last year, more than 427,000 books have been delivered to Arkansas homes. The number of books mailed monthly grew 87.3% in just two years.

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