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New Early Literacy Initiative Aims to Deliver Books to Children Across Benton and Tama Counties

Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa is launching a new, ambitious early literacy initiative to bring the joy and pride of book ownership to children across Benton and Tama counties. Through a partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, this initiative will provide one age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to children from birth to age five at no cost for families enrolled in the program. There are 2,600 children in Benton and Tama counties that are eligible for this program.

Research from a 20 year study shows that the presence of a home library increases children's academic success, vocabulary development, attention and job attainment. Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, children also develop literacy skills long before being able to read. Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than three times a week.

To enroll a child

Children can be enrolled in this program online at: or by scanning the QR code in the photo.

To receive a paper enrollment form or for assistance, contact Erin Monaghan at 319-214-1417 or

To make a donation

While this program is free to families, there is an annual cost to Better Tomorrows of $25 per child. With 2600 age-eligible children in Benton and Tama counties, donations and grants will be needed. Community members and businesses that would like to help can make donations electronically or by mail.

Donations can be made electronically by clicking HERE. (select either Benton County or Tama County from the drop-down menu)

Donations may also be made by mailing a check to:

Better Tomorrows ECI

PO Box 516

Vinton, IA 52349

About Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Better Tomorrows ECI provides tools and resources to fully engage young children in learning opportunities so they can grow to be healthy, productive and well-rounded students, parents, workers and leaders.

There are 2000 days between birth and the first day of kindergarten. The first 2000 days of a child's life have a profound and lifelong impact on physical and emotional well-being, readiness to learn and succeed, and ability to become a productive citizen. Research shows that 80% of a child's brain develops in the first two years, with 90% developing by age 5. As a result, experiences during those years shape the architecture of the brain, including cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional capacities-the foundation for future learning and growth.

Better Tomorrows funds the following programs to support young children and their families:

Healthy Families is an in-home family support program that partners with families, to set and achieve goals and learn about child development to help them thrive and succeed.

Family Nest is a group-based parent education program for expecting families and families with children age 0 - 4. Class topics include: prenatal care, nutrition, mental health, child safety, delivery/recovery/self-advocacy and more. Participants earn points that can be redeemed in the Nest Store.

Preschool scholarships for families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level.

Quality Early Childhood Environments provides achievement bonuses to childcare and preschool programs that participate in quality improvement programs and professional development courses.

Childcare Alliance Response Team (CART) provides behavioral supports and services to child care programs working with children that are exhibiting challenging behaviors.

Childcare Nurse Consultants offer services to early learning environments to ensure best health and safety practices are utilized.

Childcare Expansion Bonuses provides funding to new or existing child care providers that increase their capacity.

More information is available at

About Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted nearly 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. The Imagination Library mails more than 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more.

The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. For more information, please visit


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