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Getting books into hands of children

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is taking a page out of Dolly Parton’s book and working to establish the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library in all 88 Ohio Counties.

If that name sounds familiar to you, it may be because Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is already working with the United Ways of Jefferson; and Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties. Efforts are underway to bring the initiative to Belmont County.

Fran DeWine’s idea is to get every child in Ohio a free book every month from birth until they turn 5 years old. She launched the program this month.

“These kids love hearing stories, you can see that they’re eager to learn,” DeWine told another media outlet. “We just need to take that opportunity to read to them, and it’s fun, and it develops bonds between the parents or the siblings and the child.”

Developing an appreciation for reading and education — and getting kids away from all those screens — is important to their healthy development. There are many obstacles to making that happen, and DeWine is well aware of that. One challenge involves parents who are not literate or are in the grip of struggles such as substance abuse.

In those cases, DeWine is hopeful other family members, family friends or neighbors will step up. Meanwhile, the Ohio General Assembly has set aside $5 million for the program, meaning that in fiscal 2021-22, every county adopting the program gets a dollar-for-dollar match.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of reading to a young child. Good for DeWine for working to give more kids access to books as they grow.

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