Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Gardner brings Imagination Library to Lincoln for kids


September 12, 2018

Roger Dey

Annette Gardner channels her inner Dolly.

Annette Gardner, who took on a new position as Lincoln Public School's reading coach this year, also sported a new look at the school open house Thursday afternoon. Decked out - and nearly unrecognizable - in a platinum blond wig and other, shall we say, enhancements, Gardner was promoting a new effort to sign up young children for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. A book gifting program, it mails free, age appropriate books for kids from birth through the age of 5, starting with books parents can read to their infants.

According to the Imagination Library website, Dolly Parton launched the program in 1995 in her home county in Tennessee as a way to ensure kids across all income levels could have access to books. By 2000 it began to spread across the country and then on into Canada and to the UK and Australia. The Imagination Library now ships more than a million books a month to kids worldwide.

Although the Imagination Library program dovetails nicely with the Montana Comprehensive Literacy Project Grant awarded to the school last year, Gardner said the two are unrelated.

"It happened to come up at the same time," she said. Nevertheless, she added that it should certainly help with the grant program, which aims at improving literacy among kids as young as 4 years old.

Gardner said she first learned about the program last year, from her sister. When she began exploring the website to find out how to sign kids up, she found the program wasn't available in Lincoln because no one had sponsored the program within the zip code.

To get it going, Gardner began working with the Council for the Arts, Citizens Alliance Bank, Lincoln Telephone and the Lincoln Parent -Teacher -Student Association to serve as 'Local Champions" to sponsor the project.

"We started getting them on board with this in December, but we haven't signed anybody up. It takes a while for all that to happen," she said.

Gardner first had to estimate the number of kids in the 0-5 age range living within the area of the 59639 zip code, and then she had to find the sponsors to fund the annual cost of the program, which is estimated to be about $1200 a year.

Now her task is to get parents who live within in the 59639 zip code to sign their kids up.

"If you have multiple kids, you still sign all the multiple kids up, because they're getting different books at different ages," she said.

By Monday, Gardner had 17 kids signed up for the program. Parents can also sign their kids up for the program on line.

For more information, check out the Imagination Library website at


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