Here's how to get free books for your New West preschooler

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has come to New Westminster, and families are being invited to sign up

All children should grow up in a home full of books.

It’s that dream that led to the founding of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and it’s the same dream that’s brought the program right here to New Westminster.

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Local families of preschoolers are being invited to sign up for the book gifting program, which mails a book to each registered child – at no cost to their family – every month.

“Income level, status, or any of that does not matter. If you’re under five, in New Westminster, and registered, you get a free book,” explained Thoa Pattison, the driving force behind setting up the program in New Westminster, in an email.

Pattison noted the Imagination Library program is designed to encourage a love of reading in all children and to help promote early literacy.

It was founded by the country music icon back in 1995 and launched in Canada in 2006. The Tennessee-based organization works in partnership with “local champions,” as they’re called, in participating communities in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland and Australia.

The Imagination Library organization selects books, coordinates the ordering and covers all overhead and administrative expenses. The local champions cover the cost ($3.55 per child per month) of the books and mailing, promote the program locally and sign up local children.

Pattison took on the program about two years ago, when she set out to bring it to Queensborough – and, eventually, the rest of New Westminster. She got the Rotary Club of New Westminster on board to support the program, and just recently G&F Financial came on board with a grant as well.

That extra funding means she’s now able to welcome more families in New Westminster to the program, Pattison noted.

Currently, about 170 children are signed up to receive their free books every month – about 100 of whom just signed up this spring.

Pattison is now spreading the word that registration is now available to more local families.

At the same time, she’s hoping she may be able to find some more support from local donors so the program can just keep growing.

“This is a volunteer position on my end, so 100% of grants and sponsorships we receive go directly to the cost of books and mailing. Nothing else,” Pattison noted.

Any family wanting to take part can find details and a registration form online at https://imaginationlibrary.com/ca/affiliate/BCWESTMINSTER/. Forms can be mailed or emailed in, as indicated on the website.

There’s also a Facebook page (search for Queensborough Imagination Library) with more details.

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