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Southwark newborns to receive free books thanks to Dolly Parton

Published Friday, 15 January 2016

Imagination Library

In a scheme for Southwark supported by the Dollywood Foundation and DialAFlight, children living in the borough born between December 2015 and December 2016 will be eligible for free books.

The eligible children will receive a free book every month from birth until their fifth birthday.

The Imagination Library scheme, which began in 1995, is driven by the Dollywood Foundation, the non-profit organisation of music legend Dolly Parton that promotes early childhood literacy internationally. Dolly’s vision for the foundation was to enable children of all backgrounds to have access to books from birth regardless of household income. The Southwark scheme will be the first borough-wide Imagination Library in London.

DialAFlight, the locally based funder of the Southwark scheme, is allocating £750,000 to the project from its own charity, Make My Day Better, as a part of  its local community outreach work with the aim of improving literacy in the borough.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council said, "We are delighted to be working with both the Dollywood Foundation and DialAFlight to give free books to the youngest residents in our borough. With many families still feeling the pinch it has never been so important to ensure that children have access to books so they can learn and develop as much possible in their early years.

"Our libraries already run some wonderful sessions for the under five age group, with a huge range of books available for parents to read with their children, but it’s fantastic that this scheme will also allow children and families to start building up a library of their very own."

All children born between 1 December 2015 and 31 December 2016 and living in Southwark will be eligible to register for the scheme online. Parents must register their children by the end of 2016 and they will only be eligible to receive books while they live in Southwark.

Books available to children in the first year are published by Penguin Random House and include The Snowman, Meg and Mog, Dear Zoo, Hairy Maclary and Bedtime for Monsters.

World Book Day Illustrator and author of Pom Pom Gets the Grumps, Sophy Henn, will be leading a special reading session at the launch on 19 January 2016 at Camberwell Library.

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