Inaugural Imaginary Gala set for Saturday

Friday, October 31, 2008
Peggy Hubbard reads to children. Hubbard's Imagination Library Board will have a fundraiser Saturday.

The Marshall County Imagination Library Board has invited everyone to attend, by way of their imagination, a fund-raising event Saturday so that all proceeds may be spent on books for children age 5 and younger.

"We did consider various other kinds of fund raisers, but one of the things we're most proud of in Marshall County is that we have zero expenses," says Peggy Hubbard, chairwoman of the local Imagination Library Board. "We have no staff."

Meanwhile, there is only an imaginary time and place for the Inaugural Imaginary Gala.

The Imagination Library was started by Dolly Parton for her home county in East Tennessee. She and Gov. Phil Bredesen joined forces and took the program statewide as he was campaigning for his first term. Now, the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation and the country music star make arrangements for the books as local Imagination Library Boards find sponsors for delivery of the books to children's mailboxes.

"I imagine people will spend time at home with their family, reading and enjoying each other's company," Hubbard said about what it will be like to attend the Inaugural Imaginary Gala.

Admission is $13.50 for singles and $27 for couples. The dollar amounts represents the cost of one book per month for a year's worth of books going to only one child in the county.

"Our goal is $8,000" from the Imaginary Gala, Hubbard said. "Small business owners get hit up constantly. We thought this would be fun.

"The business owners have been generous to us, but this is something the residents of our county can do together," Hubbard continued. "I've bee in some communities where a corporation might just build a library. It never seems as valued as the one you build."

As of a few weeks ago, there were about 975 children enrolled in the Marshall County Imagination Library.

"We started ours in September of 2005," Hubbard said, noting this way of increasing children's readiness for school has spread to other states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Imagination Library participants performed "better than expected" or "much better than expected" compared to students from previous classes without the reading program that relies on parents reading to their children, according to 48 percent of kindergarten teachers and 64 percent of pre-K teachers quoted from a study reported by the Governor's Books From Birth Foundation.

Like the people invited to Marshall County's Inaugural Imaginary Gala, any child may be enrolled in the program.

And like the imaginations inspired by reading children's books, the adults at the Inaugural Imaginary Gala have an opportunity to avoid "awkward small talk" at a public event, and there's "no need to dress up," according to invitations distributed by the Library Board.

"W could go to work Monday and tell folks about what happened,who did what and we could just make stuff up," Hubbard said.

Imaginary events have been used elsewhere to raise funds for other Imagination Libraries, but here Post Office Box 1275, Lewisburg, Tenn. 37091 is the address where payment is being received for tickets to Marshall County's Inaugural Imaginary Gala. Checks may be written to the Marshall County Imagination Library.