A recently launched literacy program for Island children has had to temporarily close its registrations after meeting its annual target within a day.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a book gifting program where kids under five receive a free book in the mail every month. The P.E.I. Literacy Alliance had secured funding for 2,000 kids for the year and launched the program on Wednesday.
By Thursday morning, the program had 2,250 kids registered.
"We thought we would spend a year encouraging people to register and promoting it and all that sort of stuff, so we were very shocked," said P.E.I. Literacy Alliance executive director Jinny Greaves.
"Within 24 hours we had exceeded our goal for year one, and we're really going to try ... within the next weeks or months or a little bit more to be able to serve another additional 1,000 children or maybe even more."
Building a library month by month
The program is a partnership between the alliance and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. It provides books until the child's fifth birthday — stocking them with a library of their own.
"It's kind of like a free present every month, she won't be expecting it and we can bring it home and introduce a new story and we're not reading the same story every week," said Jenna Miller, who signed her two-year-old daughter, Ellie, up for the program.
"She loves books so it will definitely be welcomed."
The funding for the first year of the program was raised by P.E.I. Rotary Clubs and matched by the province. Greaves said they've had to close the registrations due to the popularity of the program, but the alliance will be looking at additional funding to re-launch the program.
The wait-list already has over 1,000 names.
"We are a little bit overwhelmed, actually. We were really quite surprised. We decided we were going to do a soft launch and get things kind of all the kinks worked out … this is our first province-wide program," said Jeanne Smitiuch, with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.
"It was a little hectic there for a few minutes, but we're thrilled."
'There is need for literacy resources'
The P.E.I. Literary Alliance hopes to expand the program to reach all children under the age of five on the Island — about 7,000 kids.
For Greaves, the fast uptake has been encouraging.
"It shows us that Islanders really understand that literacy is a foundational skill and that for people to be able to reach their full potential, it's a very important thing to achieve when you're young," she said.
"It also definitely shows us the need. There is need for literacy resources, specifically for families with young children."
For those who have already registered, the first books will arrive in November.
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