A milestone has been reached in the Greater Danbury area in the effort to close the achievement gap before it starts. Imagination Library, a program that sends free books to children, will soon deliver its 200,000th.
The program is run by the United Way of Western Connecticut. Children aged birth through 5 years who live in 10 towns can receive a new book a month in the mail at no cost. The program is available in Bethel, Bridgewater, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Stamford, Warren, and Washington.
Director of Community Impact Karen Mello says Connecticut has the widest education achievement gap in the country between children from poor and minority families and their peers. The program was started in 2008 in an effort to close that gap by ensuring that all children have access to quality reading materials.
Mello says the early literacy programs like Imagination Library can help combat the achievement gap before it starts, can cultivate critical reading skills and encourage parents/caregivers to read aloud with their children.
Research by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University indicates that 90% of a child’s brain development happens before the age of 5.
More than 9,000 children from ten local towns are enrolled in the program.