Books from Birth tour bus makes a stop in Lewisburg

Friday, September 26, 2014
Pictured, from left, are Marshall County Imagination Library Board ChairPerson Peggy Hubbard, Books from Birth President Theresa Carl, First Lady Chrissy Haslam, and Board Members Nicole Musgrave, Greg Lowe, Elizabeth Jackson, Jessica Moore, Paula Chamberlin, and Lacy Hooten.

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

The Governors Books from Birth Foundation tour bus made an appearance at the Church Street Church of Christ parking lot on Monday.

The foundation was created in 2004 and allows children from birth to age five to receive up to 60 books at no cost to families, regardless of their income.

In partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and other statewide county-affiliated programs, the GBBF builds a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee's children.

The public-private partnership works with each local affiliate promoting the program in its community and raises funds for half the cost of books and mailing. The other half of the cost of books and mailing is supported by the GBBF's annual state grant that also supports local affiliated programs through fundraising, volunteer training, and public relations.

After funding has been made available for the books, the Dollywood Foundation manages selection, pricing, and the distribution of the books. The books then arrive in the mailboxes of Tennessee's children.

The program believes that after enrollment children are more prepared for school, have stronger early reading skills, develop essential life skills, and begin school with book-handling skills and an understanding of letter and word concepts. It also fosters strong speech and vocabulary, and connects families together as they read the books to their children.

According to a survey of Tennessee preschool teachers, children who haven't seen books don't know how to interact with books. Children who have received Imagination Library books have had exposure and know the correct way to hold a book and how to turn pages.

On Monday, cookies were provided by First National Bank and First Lady Chrissy Haslam talked about the program. Awards were given to the Marshall County GBBF Board, Mike Whitehead with the Marshall County teachers, Ginger Hardison, Meri Bigham, and Emily Gordon with the Beta Kappa Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Women Teachers, Amy Irvin President of the Rotary Club, and Gayle Collins of the Retired Teachers Association.

Peggy Hubbard, chairperson of Imagination Library, presented a $500 check to the Marshall County Imagination Library Board on behalf of State Farm Insurance.

"Peggy Hubbard is the heart and soul of the Marshall County Imagination Library," said Greg Lowe, Lewisburg's Director of Economic Development. "She has built the program up and managed to maintain and grow it through her own personal hard work and dedication."

Backpacks were given to the children filled with an activity coloring book, crayons, band-aids, a whistle, and a bookmark.

"I feel like the Imagination Library has really been successful on a county level. Marshall County has been great to work with. More than 20 million books have been distributed across the state over the past 10 years. It's really important for the parents to read these books with their children because a child's brain grows to 80 percent of it's adult size by age three. We want parents to read to their children for at least 20 minutes a day. Only 46 percent of young students today are on the reading level. The other 54 percent are behind and it's very hard to come back," said Haslam.

Today 407,813 Tennessee children under the age of five have access to the Imagination Library.

To donate or volunteer for the Imagination Library, visit