Read Today or Pay Tomorrow: Celebrating International Children’s Book Day

Guest post by David Dotson of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton has taught me lots of lessons over the past 16 years:

Be proud of who you are.

To reach your goals you may have to step around people or step over people, but never step on people.

Count your blessings more often than you count your money.

Yet the greatest gift she gave me was the gift of reading. I stepped into a situation in which she told me that she wanted to share her Imagination Library with children all over the world. She wanted to inspire preschool children to love reading and love books. She was convinced that if kids could not only read, but also love to read, then their chances of succeeding in school and life would be greatly enhanced.

Dolly didn’t quote any statistics, but numbers abound to affirm her intuitive genius.

Depending on the community and the country, 35%-50% of children come to kindergarten unprepared to learn. And for those children reading below grade level in the 3rd or 4th grade, 75% of them will be reading below grade level in the 12th grade.

The consequences are immense. Can you believe that 85% of juvenile offenders have problems with reading? Or that kids who arrive at school unprepared to learn are four times more likely to drop out of school? And try this one on: 70% of inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.

The call to action on this day to celebrate children’s books is to ensure that all children have access to books — in addition to the basic needs of a home, good health and nutrition. This is a hefty investment for sure, but at the end of the day one fact remains: read today or pay tomorrow.

David Dotson, President The Dollywood Foundation Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton explains the inspiration behind her Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free, age-appropriate books to registered children from birth to age five.

Posted by Dolly Parton's Imagination Library on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

About the Author David Dotson has led The Dollywood Foundation for the past 16 years. He has served on a variety of boards committed to excellence in education, co-produced a series of shows to bring books to life at Dollywood, and basically does anything that Dolly Parton needs him to do!


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