One of the unique aspects of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Ionia County is that it benefits so many children all throughout the county. From the edges of Portland and Lakewood to the boarders of the Belding school district, children birth to five are eligible to receive books. One mother, Janelle Collins from Portland shares her unique story about her daughter’s early literacy development.
My daughter is visually impaired and has been in the Early On program where I learned about the DPIL program. When we finally do get an official visual acuity for her, our guess is that she will be declared legally blind. Developing a love of reading is often more difficult for a visually impaired child, since pictures in children’s books are often very busy or small, making looking at the pictures less enjoyable. In order to encourage Elli to love books as much as we do, either my husband or I (and often both) have read to her every day since she was born, and as we learned more about her condition, we realized it was doubly important to continue reading to her and encouraging books in whatever way possible. Although both we and April have provided her with many books, we absolutely love the DPIL books. Due to Elli’s therapy schedule, feeding schedule, and many doctors’ visits, I find it difficult to get to a library frequently to select new books, so having books sent once a month to our home has been fantastic. Elli has been exposed to a wider variety of books than she possibly could have been without the DPIL, since many of the books are unfamiliar to me when we first received them. Of course, after countless times of reading through those books at her request, I now have most of them memorized, and I believe Elli does as well!
We keep a bag of books in our car, so that she has something to look at when we drive anywhere. Right now, every book in the car is a DPIL book, since those are some of her favorites. We’ve used these books while waiting at doctor’s offices, as part of her feeding therapy, and just for general entertainment. Often, when something happens in life that’s similar to one of her books, she will say “That matches my _____ book!” and name the book she’s referring to. She loves all books, but the DPIL books are some of her favorites.
So thank you (and everybody involved in funding this program) for providing books to my daughter. It has made a significant impact in her love of books and reading!