Batavia United Way brings Imagination Library to local children

The Batavia United Way is offering free books for local children in partnership with Imagination Library through the nonprofit The Dollywood Foundation.

Nearly 200 children under 5 years old have been registered in Batavia to receive a free book each month through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in partnership with the Batavia United Way.

The free books are offered to all children under 5 in Batavia & Batavia township, regardless of family income, according to a news release from the Batavia United Way.

“Batavia United Way is committed to education, and we’re proud of our programs that foster learning,” Kathy Evangelista, executive director of Batavia United Way, stated in the release. “Most importantly, we believe that learning to read and to love books very early makes a huge difference.”

According to the release, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was launched in 1995 by The Dollywood Foundation, providing free books to children in Parton’s home area of Sevier County in Tennessee.

Since launching, it has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world, and has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. This is achieved through funding shared by The Dollywood Foundation and local community partners like Batavia United Way. The goal of the program is to inspire a love of books and reading among children, the release stated.

Children must be registered by a parent or guardian in order to receive the books. There is no charge to register or receive the books. Age-appropriate books are mailed directly to the homes of registered children each month. Children will begin receiving books at their home addresses about 8 to 10 weeks after their forms are received and approved.

The first book distributed is always the children’s classic “The Little Engine That Could.”

Parents or guardians may register their children online by filling out a brief form at . They also may register by completing a printed registration form found on the website and mailing to Batavia United Way, P.O. Box 372 Batavia, IL 60510.