Imagination Library mails free books to kids

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015


Popular book program continues growth

Imagination Library mails free books to kids.

Popular book program continues growth photo

Kathy Abke reads to 2- and 3-year-olds during Story Time at the Troy Miami County Library. Programs of this kind have increased the number of children using the library as they get older. JIM WITMER/STAFF

By Nancy Bowman Contributing Writer


Melissa Clauss said she loves the Imagination Library program that delivers free books to her young sons at their Tipp City home once a month, but maybe not as much as the boys themselves.

Logan, 3, and Cody, 1, “get really excited when we get the mail and they have a book,” Clauss said. “I have to open it right away so they can look at it and then read it that night at bedtime. And usually several nights in a row after that!”

Derek Mallery lives in Troy with daughter Vayda, 3, and her mother Josie. They heard about the program during a library visit for story time.

“We have been participating in the program since before her first birthday. We love getting a new book in the mail and unwrapping it and reading it right away,” Mallery said.

The Troy-Miami County Public Library introduced the Imagination Library project offered through entertainer Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation in January 2014.

The United Ways in Troy, Piqua and Tipp City, the Friends of the Troy Miami County Public Library and a library donation from the Ada Pressman estate are among funding partners. Pressman, who grew up in Troy, developed emergency safety systems for fossil-fired and nuclear plants.

The Imagination Library is a 60-volume home library created to stimulate pre-school children’s imaginations and encourage reading within the family at an early age, said Rachelle Miller, library director.

Books are selected by a panel of educators with the series always beginning with a special copy of “The Little Engine That Could.”

There now are more than 2,500 children across Miami County in the program, which is some 40 percent of children younger than 5, Miller said.

The Imagination Library first was offered in Tipp City/Bethel Twp. and in Newton Twp.

Those programs were wrapped into the countywide project.

There is no cost to families with children enrolled, but there is a cost to the library facilitating the program. It costs $25 a year per child with the monthly costs now more than $5,000.

“We have been very fortunate to have the support of area foundations and the United Way agencies, but we are hoping to secure some long-term funding as our costs continue to rise,” Miller said. “We are in the process of setting up a committee of community champions who will help us make connections with businesses, organizations and people who may be able to help fund the program.”

Individuals can help by sponsoring a child at $25 for a year or $125 for five years.

Anyone interested in more information, or in signing up their child is asked to call Nancy Hargrove at (937) 339-0502, ext. 121.

Contact this contributing writer at


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