(CINCINNATI, Ohio)— This morning, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine attended Hamilton County’s One Millionth Imagination Library Book Celebration at Deer Park Branch Library in Cincinnati.
First Lady DeWine also presented a proclamation from Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, which recognizes the milestone of one million Imagination Library books being given out in Hamilton County.
“Hamilton County serves as a role model for how to build strong community partnerships and expand enrollment in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library,” said First Lady DeWine. “I am so grateful for the effort to get so many free books into the hands of our littlest Ohioans and their families, because we know this program has so many benefits – from better bonding time to better kindergarten readiness scores!”
First Lady DeWine joined several community partners who have supported the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program in Hamilton County, including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Public Library, and members of the Ohio General Assembly. Afterwards, First Lady DeWine visited Cincinnati Public School District’s John P. Parker Elementary School and read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle to a group of preschoolers. She was also joined by Loren Long, Ohio author and illustrator, who has four books in the Imagination Library collection. First Lady DeWine and Loren read two additional books.
“Programs like the Imagination Library are incredibly important to Cincinnati Children’s because they are investments into the health of our community,” said Bill Brinkman, MD, Director of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Partnering with parents to promote a love for reading at a young age, which we know is a critical time for brain development, is vitally important for children and for the continued growth and health of our region. We are proud to be a part of this program and celebrate reaching this milestone alongside our funders and community partners.”
Hamilton County’s Imagination Library program began in 2015 with a pilot partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Public School District. Following the three-year pilot, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital published a study showing that the percentage of entering kindergarteners who were “on-track” on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment’s literacy section increased by 15% among those with greater exposure to the Imagination Library program. This increase was significantly greater than similar children who weren’t enrolled in the program.
"Regular reading is a critical part of a child’s development. Just 20 minutes per day is enough to strengthen brain development, build caregiver-child relationships, and build literacy and social skills,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Library. “That’s why it is important to get books into kids’ hands in order to build a foundation of success for starting their education journey.”
The Imagination Library in Hamilton County became available county-wide in March 2020 with support from the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and the Ohio General Assembly. Currently, 50% of eligible children (26,486) in Hamilton County are enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library.
Statewide, 45% of eligible children (321,565) are enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, each receiving a high quality, age-appropriate book every month in the mail. Any child from birth to age five can enroll in the program at no cost to their family.
To learn more about the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library or to enroll a child, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.