An innovative book-gifting project that aims to improve the literacy levels of young children is now on offer in Cessnock.
From January 2022, every newborn child living in the Cessnock local government area will be eligible to access Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which will see them receive a free age-appropriate book every month, until they turn five.
Initiated by the international country music celebrity over 20 years ago, the Imagination Library has seen over 160 million books delivered to children in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
The aim of the project is to provide children with access to their own library of literary resources from an early age. This will assist them to develop essential literacy skills while learning to read and write.
Cessnock mayor Jay Suvaal said he was delighted to see a program like this rolled out in the Cessnock community.
"I know how much joy reading a book brings to my own children, so I'm really excited to support any program that gives children the opportunity to experience the joy of reading," Cr Suvaal said.
"Early childhood census data shows children in the Cessnock LGA are below the state average when it comes to literacy and communication skill levels.
"This is a practical approach at the local community level to better equip young children and provide them with the resources they need to help lift these numbers."
Charity organisation United Way Australia will work with Cessnock City Library to administer the project.
United Way Australia CEO Clayton Noble said: "United Way Australia is very excited to be partnering with Cessnock City Library on this innovative program. The commitment to ensuring every child born in the region is school-ready is to be applauded".
To register for the initiative, parents and carers must complete a short registration form, which is available at Cessnock and Kurri Kurri Libraries and from local family health nurses.
For more information, email email@example.com or call 4993 4382.
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