A couple of local non-profit organization and an area college are teaming up to bring the preschool reading program that bears the name of a country music icon to a Lewis County school.

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Officials with the United Way of the Mark Twain Area announced Friday that seed money has been sent to the Dolly Parton Foundation for the Imagination Library Program to start providing books for youngsters in the Canton School District.

The Imagination Library program provides age appropriate reading material to preschoolers, sending each youngster one book a month from birth to age five.

The program is free for participating families, but the program costs $25 per child per year, so it's up to the local community to finance the program.

The Community Foundation of West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri has teamed with the United Way to provide funding for communities to join the Imagination Library program.

The Education Department at Culver-Stockton College in Canton has stepped up to spearhead the program, with the Canton R-V School District handling the money.

"We are thrilled about the opportunity to provide increased access to high-quality reading materials to our early childhood community," said Dr. Lindsay Uhlmeyer, Assistant Professor of Education at Culver. "Our hope is that receiving books in the mail will generate interest and excitement among young children and parents, and will encourage families to build the habit of reading into their lives."

Incidentally, the United Way has seed money available for any individual or group who would like to bring the Imagination Library to Palmyra, Philadelphia, rural Monroe County or rural Shelby County.

For more information, contact Denise Damron at the United Way at 573-221-2761 or email director@unitedwaymta.org.

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