MOUNT GILEAD — Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine had a busy day reading to children.
She was promoting the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program in central Ohio on Thursday, Dec. 9. DeWine hosted a press conference in Columbus to celebrate more than 300,000 kids enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library.
She then hosted three book readings in Coshocton, Knox and Morrow counties, her final stop being at the Mount Gilead Public Library.
“It’s a really fun program to do. It really helps get kids ready for kindergarten,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library mails kids one age-appropriate book each month until their 5th birthday. All kids in Ohio are eligible to be enrolled in the program at no cost to their family.
OGIL is in collaboration with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
“It’s a free book in the mail every single month from the time they’re born until they turn 5 years old. So we are trying to get as many kids signed up as we can,” she said.
Studies show that 80 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 3.
Kindergarten readiness also is important, according to DeWine.
“It means that when they start kindergarten, they’re right up at the start line with everybody else.”
She read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to a small group at the local library. Youngsters received a personalized signed copy of the book from DeWine.
“I think kids are going to be more successful, and you have the bonding with parents. I learned about the program when my grandkids had it in Greene County,” DeWine said.
It quickly became a passion topic for her.
“I was watching them one day and the books came in the mail and they ripped off the wrapper and said, ‘Read to me. Read to me.’ They were so excited to get mail addressed to them and to get a book. It was the year Mike was running to be governor and it was sort of like a light bulb went off … I said this is something I want to do.”
The Kiwanis Club of Morrow County assists with the project locally along with Heartbeat of Morrow County.
“We currently have 836 children enrolled in the DPIL/OGIL program,” club secretary and coordinator Deb Levering said.
The club began sponsoring the program in Morrow County in September 2010.
“We got every county signed up about a year ago, and we’re up to 300,000 kids in Ohio,” DeWine said.
This month, 301,457 kids in Ohio were mailed a book from the Imagination Library.
“Sometimes I have 25 kids and sometimes I have a group like this. It’s fun to see them … the big kids and little kids … You see the light bulbs going off in their heads. I think it’s just a great program.”
Caregivers can enroll their kids at OhioImaginationLibrary.org.