Publisher's Note: State Would Benefit From Imagination Library as County Has

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On June 26, 2020, The Chronicle Editorial Board shared its support of the newly launched Lewis County participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The Chronicle also noted the success of the program through the pandemic was in large part thanks to strong partnerships. In part, the editorial read, “The success and continued growth of the program owes much to the support of the community, but also to the strong partnership formed by the Chehalis, Centralia and Twin Cities Rotary clubs and United Way, without which thousands of children wouldn’t be getting free books delivered each month.”

That partnership saw a boost in a bipartisan way when state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, and state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, partnered to co-sponsor House Bill 2068, creating the imagination library of Washington program. They filed the bill on Jan. 19, Dolly Parton’s 76th birthday. 

The legislation recognizes the program and authorizes the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to select a Washington state-based qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to create and operate the program. Ultimately, the legislation recognizes the program so it can be expanded statewide, and likely managed by the United Way of the Pacific Northwest. Locally, it is managed by the United Way of Lewis County.

Putting books into the hands of children under the age of 5 should not be partisan. Strengthening families by encouraging reading together should not be partisan. Preparing our children for kindergarten should not be partisan. And, thanks to Reps. Abbarno and Stonier, it isn’t partisan.

I don’t know Rep. Stonier’s involvement in the program prior to the introduction of HB 2068. But, I appreciate her support and leadership. I do know that Rep. Abbarno and his family have supported and advocated for the Imagination Library and early learning for many years. The fact that he collaborated across the political aisle and took his local passion for this program to the state level tells me a lot about his character. We are thankful.

A donation of $25 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides a free age-appropriate book directly to the child’s home for one year. That means a donation of $150 can provide a book for a child and family to read together from birth to five years old. Reading together as a family has proven to result in school readiness and family engagement.

Not every piece of legislation will be bipartisan or a happy success story. The fact that two legislators from different sides of the political aisle came together, found common ground, and collaborated on this program gives us all hope. We urge the passage of House Bill 2068.

For more information on enrolling or donating to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, go to www.lewiscountyuw.com/dolly-partons-imagination-library.

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Chad Taylor is co-owner and publisher of The Chronicle.