Pyle seeks to bring reading program to county
link Staff photo: Alisa Boswell
These are four of the books that are part of the Imagination Library program Curry County wants to bring to its preschool-age children to encourage them to read.
Curry County Manager Lance Pyle’s eyes lit up as he sat in his office thumbing through children’s books.
Pyle said he is passionate about the idea of encouraging parents to read to their preschool age children because he has seen first hand the results.
“We read to our daughter every night and we’ve done it from the month she was born,” Pyle said of his 14-month-old, Laikyn. “It’s neat to see how she has developed because of that. Before, she would just look at a book and now, she wants to help turn the pages and she’ll point to things in the book, so it’s exciting to watch that.”
It is his passion concerning the importance of reading that has made Pyle feel so strongly about bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Curry County.
The program was started by Dolly Parton in 1999, a few years after she decided to give books to preschool children in the community where she grew up, Sevier County, Tennessee.
A child enrolled in the program receives a new book each month with no cost to their family.
The purpose of this program, according to Pam Hunsaker, retail director for the Imagination Library, is to encourage parents to read to their small children.
She said the program is international, also serving communities in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
She said the program has more than 750,000 preschool age children enrolled around the world with 3,344 in New Mexico, adding that she believes Curry County would be the first on the eastern side of the state to participate.
“Research shows that the activity of reading to children regularly can cause a significant increase in IQ, which will last a lifetime,” Hunsaker said. “Parents are the best teachers their children will ever have and we encourage them to read to their children each and every day.”
Hunsaker said program officials have talked to kindergarten teachers, who have said they can tell which children have been read to and which haven’t prior to starting school.
“They (children read to) know their shapes and colors better and sit still better and are more ready to be in school,” she said.
Pyle said for the program to come to Curry County, it has to be approved by county commissioners in the July 25 county commission meeting.
He said county officials will ask the commission to allot $2,500 to help start the program, but the rest of the funding will come from private businesses and individuals who wish to support the program.
“Based on the information provided and the research we did, we felt it would be a great program to bring to Curry County,” Pyle said of officials. “These are good quality books and it isn’t very costly and I think it would be a great benefit to our community.”
Pyle said the county’s goal in the first year of the program will be to get at least 20 percent of Curry County’s 5,693 eligible preschool children involved and to raise at least $10,000 from financial supporters.
Pyle said if commissioners approve the program, it will kick off at the county fair Aug. 12-15 with an information and sign-up booth.
He said county officials will also market the program in the community by working in conjunction with the hospital and preschools to get parents to register for the program.