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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Layla Kiffin to Join Knox County's Imagination Library effort

Mayor Haslam and Mayor BehanNovember 3, 2009 - Knox County Public Library is very pleased to announce that Layla Kiffin is joining the board of Imagination Library in Knox County. The program, begun by Dolly Parton in 1996, sends books in the mail every month to registered children under the age of five. Knox County now has over 17,000 children enrolled, or 73% of the eligible population, making it one of the most successful urban programs in the country.

Layla Kiffin moved to Knoxville this year with her husband Lane, who became head football coach for the University of Tennessee. They have three small children under the age of five. “I am looking forward to being a part of this wonderful program,” says Kiffin. “Being a mother to young children, I know first hand the magic of reading with my kids. I’m excited about sharing the benefits of reading to children and encouraging young families to get involved with this program.”

Imagination Library was launched in Knox County in January 2005. At that time, national research showed that 35% of children entering Kindergarten were not prepared to begin learning. In essence, they were behind before they got started. Pre-literacy skills such as letter and number recognition, book handling, and vocabulary building are developed primarily as a result of being read to. Imagination Library has been very effective in encouraging young families to read together and improving early literacy skills. Over 700,000 books have been mailed to Knox County children since the program's inception.

“Early childhood education is a key component of the Knox County Schools five year strategic plan to achieve our vision of Excellence for All Children,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent of the Knox County Schools. “Our early childhood development efforts and the work that parents do with their young children are extremely important to kindergarten readiness and success in school. The Imagination Library is an exceptional complement to these efforts which help parents to address the developmental needs of their preschool age children.”

Imagination Library is a program of the Knox County Public Library. Funding for books and mailing is raised through an independent board of advisors. The cost of books and mailing is $30 per child per year. The Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation supports 50% of all local funding, with the remaining funds coming from grants, individual and corporate donations.

For more information about Imagination Library in Knox County, please contact Amy Nachtrab at (865) 215-8784.

For Immediate Release
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