Hull City council has allocated £88,500 funding for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library scheme to be rolled out to eligible two year olds in Hull during the next academic year.
From September, over 1,500 children eligible to receive the two year old early education entitlement will receive a free book every month through the scheme.
Councillor Peter Clark, Portfolio Holder for learning and skills said: “The reading age of children entering school in Hull is below national averages and the current pandemic is likely to impact upon preparedness for school unless steps are taken to address this.
“The intention is that a Charity is established to raise the funding annually to enable the scheme to be maintained and, as funding allows, to expand provision to under-fives in the city with the aim of improving the reading age of children entering school.”
Forming a charitable company will provide funding to allow the scheme to be rolled out to all two year olds in the city in the first year of operation, as a part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, and create the structure to enable funds to be raised to develop and maintain the provision to under-fives in future years.
Jo Moxon, Head of Education said: “We want all young children in the city to have the chance to develop imagination and wonder through a love of high quality books. The project starts with our two year olds.
“Evidence shows that reading aloud to children at a young age positively impacts on their brain development. Listening to stories also exposes children to a larger, more diverse vocabulary and greater variety of sentence structure than just talking to them. It also supports children’s understanding and development of print, alphabetical knowledge, phonological awareness and improved memory, all essential skills leading to school readiness and confidence and future success.”
Parents will need to register with the Library through their children’s nursery or childminder to start to receive the free books in September.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a non-profit organisation established in 1990.