Free program to offer reading tools

Parents and their children are invited to the Austintown library for Imagine with Us July 17 from 6-7:30 p.m. to learn techniques for reading with your little ones. There will be a story and activity offered for children. This is a free event made possible by the United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative. The evening will include raffles, giveaways and dinner for all participants provided by Panera Bread and Covelli Enterprises.

The library’s Early Literacy Specialist, Lyndsay Cramer, will show parents and caregivers how to share books with their children so that they can become proficient readers. To register for the program, call the Austintown library at 330-744-8636 or the United Way office at 330-746-8494.

“The United Way is connecting children age five and under with books,” noted Heidi Daniel, Library Executive Director. “And putting books in children’s hands is something we believe in strongly. Books inspire creativity and provide knowledge which can enrich lives.”

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley launched its new initiative, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, on April 9 in partnership with Covelli Enterprises and with support from the library. Since that time, 1,800 children in Mahoning county have been enrolled, which far exceeded the first year expectation.

“As part of our partnership, we are providing workshops for parents in our libraries featuring our librarians, who are skilled in early literacy. Our staff will present parents with techniques for reading with their children in developmentally-appropriate ways. We aim to expand parents’ knowledge of the simple techniques they can use when reading to their children to give them the skills to become proficient readers,” notes Daniel.

Josephine Nolfi, Library Manager of Youth Services and Programming, is enthusiastic about the project.

“We’re delighted to participate in United Way’s Imagination Library initiative. We are happy to be able to extend our reach to more families,” said Nolfi.

Children in Mahoning county ages birth to 5 years will receive a free book when they are enrolled by a parent or guardian. The total estimated population under age 5 is 14,109. The library is hoping to reach 60 percent, which is 8,465 children, over five years.

Parents and guardians can enroll children online at or or by completing a registration form, which is available at any of the county’s 15 public libraries, community centers and schools. The books will be mailed to the children’s homes addressed to them.

In addition to the enrollment success, the Imagination Library has garnered more investment support from The Italian Scholarship Foundation, the William M. Neckerman Charitable Foundation and the Jane F. Lamb Charitable Foundation.

“Our participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library demonstrates the commitment the library has to early literacy and to inspiring children in our community to develop a love of reading and a love of libraries,” said Library Communications and Public Relations Director Janet Loew.

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