'Bigger Smiles' grant to give the gift of reading to Hardeman County

'Bigger Smiles' grant to give the gift of reading to Hardeman County
First South Bank is a 12 y ear contributor to the Hardeman County Imagination Library. Pictured left to right are Bailee Hutchinson, Cathy Mayfield, Lora Moore, Monroe Woods, and Larry Crawford. (SOURCE: Cathy Mayfield)
First South Bank is a 12 y ear contributor to the Hardeman County Imagination Library. Pictured left to right are Bailee Hutchinson, Cathy Mayfield, Lora Moore, Monroe Woods, and Larry Crawford. (SOURCE: Cathy Mayfield)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Hardeman County Imagination Library is a recipient of one of the 19 Bigger Smile grants awarded to Imagination Library programs in selected counties across the state.

Delta Dental of Tennessee has partnered once again with Governor's Books from Birth Foundation and Tennessee's Imagination Library to support and sustain Imagination Library programs that have shown exponential growth in the past year.

The Bigger Smile Grants support volunteers and programs that have gone above and beyond in their enrollment efforts.

"We are extremely grateful to Delta Dental of Tennessee for their continued support and generosity in making this Bigger Smiles grant possible in Hardeman County," said Theresa Carl, president, Governor's Books from Birth Foundation. "Bigger Smiles grants allow us to enroll more children into Tennessee's Imagination Library, giving the gift of books to more children across the state — at no cost to families."

Hardeman County Imagination Library, located in west Tennessee, provides one high-quality, age appropriate book to all enrolled children, birth to age five, each month, at no cost to families. Each month, the program mails more than 800 books to children, and since its inception in 2006, has mailed 80,576 books.

The Imagine Library receives support from local businesses and organizations as well in order to continue sending books to children.

Partners such as First South Bank, which is a 12 year contributor to the Hardeman County Imagination Library, help make the program possible.

Tennessee's Imagination Library is made available to all Tennessee children, from birth to age five, through a unique, three-way partnership between Governor's Books from Birth Foundation), Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and a local affiliate program in each of Tennessee's 95 counties.

Research shows that reading to a child in an interactive style raises a child's IQ by six points. Imagination Library participation has consistently been shown to increase the amount of one-on-one reading time and nurturing between children and adults.

In the Imagination Library model, parents are encouraged to read with the child, instead of to the child, so that parents are engaged in an interactive style.

"We believe in taking care of our children and are committed to the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library," said Dr. Philip Wenk, president and CEO, Delta Dental of Tennessee.

The Imagination Library was established in 1996 by Dolly Parton as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, TN.  An annual gift of approximately $25 provides 12 books for one child per year.

With vital financial support from the Tennessee General Assembly, foundations, individuals, and private and corporate sponsors, the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation funds half the cost of books for the Imagination Library affiliates in each of Tennessee's 95 counties.

For information on how to support your local Imagination Library program, or how to enroll a child, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call toll-free,

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