(WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE) — Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine and Colonel Christopher Meeker announced a new partnership between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base today. WPAFB is committed to elevating awareness about the Imagination Library program, so that the 35,000 military, civilian, and contractor families associated with the base are encouraged to enroll their young family members and receive free books. This is one of the first Imagination Library partnerships with a military installation in the country.
“Research shows that early childhood literacy is so very important, and I’m grateful that leaders at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are choosing to be leaders in literacy for their families,” said Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine. “Together, we are committed to supporting more military-connected families and providing a model for other military bases around the country.”
As the largest single site employer in Ohio, WPAFB plans to distribute information about Imagination Library books to its families through various places and programs such as on-base child development centers, pediatric clinics, and the Airman and Family Readiness Flight support program.
“The idea that all our young military families, especially with these young kids, are going to get a free book in the mail once a month — they’re going to be so excited,” said Col. Christopher Meeker, Commander of WPAFB’s 88th Air Base Wing. “Whether they’re together at home, or mom or dad is deployed, reading this new book is such an exciting idea.”
“Connecting our Ohio military families with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library means their children can experience the joy of discovering new stories delivered right to their home,” said Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “It’s also the very first step in building an engaged and educated workforce. When our regional business community invests in childhood literacy, we will experience the benefits for years to come.”
WPAFB is located in Greene and Montgomery counties. The Imagination Library in Montgomery County first became available county-wide in 2019. Currently, with support from local program partner Dayton Children’s, 63% of eligible children (19,595) in Montgomery County are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio.
“At Dayton Children’s, we are on the relentless pursuit for optimal health for every child in our reach,” said Deborah Feldman, President and CEO of Dayton Children’s. “We know that optimal health is tied to optimal education and therefore, we strongly believe in literacy programs like the Imagination Library as a way for children to develop the skills necessary for kindergarten readiness, early reading, and lifelong learning.”
The Imagination Library in Greene County first became available county-wide in 2013. Today, 64% of eligible children (5,936) in Greene County are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, which is supported locally by the Greene County Public Library Foundation.
While on the base today, First Lady DeWine read the Imagination Library book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle to preschool students at the New Horizons Child Development Center.
Currently 393,991 Ohio children (59% of eligible children) are enrolled in the program and receive a free monthly book in the mail. Local partners pay for half of the cost and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio pays for the other half. The books are provided free to all Ohio kids from birth to age 5. To sign up or learn more, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.