Rhea County Imagination Library leads state in Growth

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Rhea County Imagination Library Board Members, L-R, Jill Rovinelli, Linda Abel, and Jamie Ridley - (Bunny Derlak not pictured) (ElmerHarris/RheaReview)

Rhea County’s Imagination Library which began in 2007 has become the fastest growing county in the state with over 30% growth in one year.  Board member Linda Abel assures this growth would not be possible without tremendous support from the Rhea County community.

“It takes everybody in the county to help us,” insists Abel, who as a former teacher and school administrator, has dedicated her life to enhancing education opportunities for children.  From schools, to libraries, to parents, it’s been a county-wide effort says an ever grateful Abel.

Imagination Library graduates, Lauren Ridley and Ryan Spengler.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.

“It’s so much fun hearing parents tell about their kids going to the mailbox and getting books addressed to them,” adds Abel.

While Imagination Library exists in every state and several countries, Tennessee is the only state with a presence in all 95 counties.

And in Rhea County, enrollment numbers have exploded.  Over one year, Rhea County has gone from an 89 ranking (out of 95 counties) to a 56 ranking in enrollment.

In one year, 51% of eligible children in Rhea County has increased to over 70%.

“I’m just so happy to volunteer with the program where you can see the results,” says Rhea County Imagination Library Board Member Jamie Ridley.

“It really makes a difference in getting these children prepared to begin school.”

It’s easy to enroll, and you have several options.  You can sign-up at the United Way of Rhea County office (224 4th Ave #101, Dayton, TN 37321), call United Way at (423)775-5633, or sign-up online at Imagination Library’s website.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partners with Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation to promote early childhood literacy in Tennessee’s birth to five population.

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