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United Way and Connecticut Children's hope to bring a love of reading to all Hartford children

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Singer Dolly Parton reads her book, "The Coat of Many Colors" to schoolchildren at The Library of Congress on February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
Shannon Finney
Singer Dolly Parton reads her book, "The Coat of Many Colors," to schoolchildren at the Library of Congress on Feb. 27, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Connecticut Children’s and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut (UWCNC) are pushing to expand Hartford’s own “Imagination Library.”

At Hartford City Hall Tuesday, Mayor Luke Bronin celebrated the program's success. He said nearly 70% of eligible children in Hartford have enrolled. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a literacy program that mails free books to children from birth until they begin school.

Jim Shmerling, president and CEO of Connecticut Children’s, said that through this program across 15 states, test scores have improved and children’s reading levels are stronger, and there is a greater probability of education success if children are fully reading by the age of 10.

Michael Goldbas, advocacy committee chair at UWCNC, discussed the shared progress in helping Hartford children achieve these developmental milestones.

“Children learn to read by third grade and then read to learn from fourth grade on,” Goldbas said.

“Reading is one of the best habits our children can develop. It strengthens mental muscles, it helps improve comprehension, it advances analytical skills, increases imagination, boosts memory,” Goldbas said. “In other words, the more children read, the healthier they are.”

Children in Hartford under the age of 5 are eligible to register for this program and receive 12 books each year they are enrolled. To register, visit the UWCNC.