JUNEAU - Twelve Alaska communities will be added to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library roster under a second round of grants announced recently by Best Beginnings. The grants are funded by a $150,000 grant to Best Beginnings from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.
The new communities are Barrow, Sitka, Koliganek, Little Diomede, Wasilla, Nanwalek, Old Harbor, Eagle, Mentasta, Northway, Tetlin and Toksook Bay. Imagination Libraries in Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Seward, Nome, Southeast Alaska, Tok and Tanacross also received funds to expand enrollments. With this round of grants, Best Beginnings is now helping 32 communities promote child and family literacy by participating in Imagination Library.
In most of the communities receiving grants, a local entity is sponsoring, underwriting, or organizing Imagination Library. In Barrow, the Friends of Tuzzy Library is taking the lead. The Nanwalek IRA Council, with the Nanwalek Reading Program, is sponsoring the program in that community. The Toksook Bay Head Start is putting together Imagination Library there. In Old Harbor, the program is underwritten in part by the Old Harbor Scholarship Foundation, and in Koliganek, it's Southwest Region Schools.
At the same, time the Kuskokwim Education Foundation is underwriting expansion of Imagination Library to its villages, beginning with Aniak and ultimately including Upper and Lower Kalskag, Sleetmute, Crooked Creek, Chuathbaluk, Stony River and Red Devil.
Best Beginnings has become the statewide coordinating entity for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which mails a high-quality, age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age 5. The program costs $30 per child, per year, but there is no charge to the family.
Since Best Beginnings first became involved in Imagination Library in 2008, it has expanded and sprouted all over the state. A round of grants awarded earlier in 2009 was funded by the Rasmuson Foundation, ConocoPhillips Alaska, and The CIRI Foundation.