Reach Out and Read

Hi everyone,

I had a pleasant surprise yesterday. Jesse Bornemann, one of the Awesomesauce Nine poets who joined me at The Barn in August, was telling me about a new partnership between Land’s End and Reach Out and Read, the national early literacy organization she works for, which is similar in many ways to Imagination Library. When children see their health provider for regular checkups, they receive a free book to take home. The program was founded in 1989 and is in all fifty states. Currently 4.7 million children per year are receiving books. Jesse noticed that Reach Out and Read website shows a picture of a book of mine and believes that I have others in the program. I’m delighted of course.
I’m grateful to Jesse for pointing this out to me!


Poetry for the Fun of It

Hi everyone,

I just head from Dr. Sam Bommarito, Reading Specialist/Staff Developer (retired), and new Co-Editor- Missouri Reader, that my recent article in Missouri Reader is now available live . I’ve happy to hear it and hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

Today is Day 2 at the current poetry workshop at The Barn near Honesdale. Good thoughts are going out to its leaders (Rebecca Dotlich and Georgia Heard) as well as to the poets who are this minute enjoying the opportunity to work and play together as they hone their poetic skills.

Last night Sandy and I attended a most thought provoking discussion/debate at Drury University by Carl Bernstein and PJ O’Rourke who addressed the issues of the current presidential candidates with plenty of historical overview about what has led to the prevailing political environment and widespread hostilities toward it. We were glad to be invited.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Hi everyone,
This month and next United Way of the Ozarks is holding its annual pledge drive. For those who wish to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Springfield, checks can be mailed to
United Way of the Ozarks
320 N. Jefferson
Springfield, MO 65806-1109

A gift of $25 provides twelve books, one each month, mailed to a child’s home for a year. Last week a man who read a recent article about this program walked into United Way and handed them a check for $1,000, enough to support 40 children for a year! Our Imagination Library is free to families who register their children from birth to five and live in areas with the greatest needs. Eventually we want to serve all children 0-5 in all areas of Greene County but we began where providing books in homes can do the most good and are currently reaching almost 2,000 kids every month.
I know that many of you live in other parts of the United States and in other countries. Imagination Library is in hundreds of cities and town across America and elsewhere. More than forty million books have been mailed to children and research has shown that reading to children under five on a regular basis improves their readiness for school when they reach kindergarten. If this program appeals to you and you wish to help, chances are there is an Imagination Library program near you. For anyone who lives in my area — or anyone anywhere who would like to help — please consider supporting us sometime during September and October. Last week a dear friend in Colorado sent a check, which I presented yesterday at an Imagination Library meeting. I wish I had taken a picture of those smiling faces!

Thank you!


Golfing for books

ADDENDUM and APOLOGIES: In my haste to post I inadvertently omitted the names of two people who played critical roles in creating the interest that led to bringing Imagination Library to Springfield. Peter Herschend was there to speak on behalf of Dolly Parton’s work and his own belief in its importance, and Pam Hunsaker, Regional Director of Imagination Library programs, was there to explain the program and respond to questions. Without their valuable contributions, we might never have gotten off the ground!

Hi everyone,
David and Dolly Naw, that’s not the real Dolly Parton. But Imagination Library was her idea. Children of parents who register for the free program receive a new book each month until they reach their fifth birthday. I had the pleasure of getting the program started in Springfield and so far we’re serving slightly more than 2,000 children in selected zip code areas of the community.

By getting it started I mean I brought together a group of like-minded people and organizations to talk about the Parton program. The United Way agreed to take it on to bring to the public and the Springfield-Greene County Library District agreed to provide expertise, record keeping, and leadership. Others joined the fledgling group, including the folks at Dixie Stampede in Branson, Missouri.

We meet monthly to review and plan. One topic on every agenda is money. Although Dolly Parton’s people make it as easy as possible to place books into the hands of youngsters under five, each community that accepts her challenge is charged with raising the $25 per child per year it costs. Although we’re up to 2,000 children per month now (25 x 2,000 = 50,000/year), there are 9,000 children in our community and closer to 16,000 county-wide. We’ve come a long way but have a long way to go.

This October 19 at Highland Springs Golf Course, near Springfield, Missouri, Imagination Library is trying something we haven’t tackled before. Thanks to the brainstorm of team member Michelle Herschend, we’re holding a charity golf tournament to raise funds to support our program. Click here for the information. 2015ImaginationLibraryGolfREG If you or anyone you know might be interested in entering the tournament and/or supporting it at some level, I hope you’ll share this information.

Many families don’t have books for their small children, who sit in front of a television instead of hearing literature read to them during their crucial first five years of development. Kids get excited when a book addressed to them arrives in the mail each month. They can’t wait to have someone read to them. Being read to at home on a regular basis lays the groundwork for later success in school. Dolly Parton understands this and her program has now become established across America. So far more than 70 million books have been mailed to homes where delighted young children live.

So wish us luck come October. We hope to raise a significant amount of money that will help us maintain progress so far and further extend our reach into additional homes.

Poetry workshop

Hi everyone,

I’m sitting out this year so there’s only one poetry workshop currently on record hosted by Highlights Foundation at the Barn near Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

Rebecca Dotlich will lead it (April 19-21) and if you’d like more information about that one, here’s a link. .

For those who sign up for Larry Dane Brimner’s workshop, “Capturing the Spotlight: Getting the Gigs 2015” (April 26-29), I’ll be one of Larry’s Skype guests. I accepted his invitation to “spend an hour talking about blogging, blogging without a huge investment of time/effort, and what you perceive as the benefits vis a vis developing a following and getting speaking engagements.” Here’s Larry’s link.