In January 2018, Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at Nottingham City Council, will read to as many children as he possibly can with a target of at least 2018 children across Nottingham city. Cllr Mellen aims to raise £2018 for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a charity that delivers a free book every month to children from birth until the age of five. The scheme is proven to improve children’s literacy levels so that they are 28% more likely to be ready to start school when they turn five.

The scheme in Nottingham was set up in 2009 and is now running successfully in seven of the city’s 20 wards. More than 4000 children in Nottingham are now registered with the scheme.

Councillor Mellen’s diary is packed full of visits in January to schools, children’s centres, libraries, hospitals, nurseries, etc. across all 20 wards in the city and he is confident that by the end of the month he will have hit his target to read to 2018 children.

He is asking for sponsorship money and is hoping to raise at least £2018 for the charity.

Councillor Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said:

“The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a charity close to my heart. In Nottingham, too many of our children start school well behind the expected literacy levels.

“As someone who is passionate about children’s education, I believe reading with children is one of the best ways to set them up for a bright future.

“This charity ensures every registered child, whatever their family circumstances, receives a book every month. It’s about giving our children the joy of reading.

“I am delighted the scheme is now running in seven wards across the city, but I want to go further and roll it out to all children living in the city, making sure every child in Nottingham benefits from receiving a book every month. To do this, the charity desperately needs more funds.

“Although my challenge is an ambitious one, it is one that I am thoroughly looking forward to. I hope that I am able to raise lots of funds and awareness for this brilliant cause.”

Councillor Mellen’s fundraising page can be found here:

About the Dolly Parton Imagination Library

In 1995 Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her vision was to get children to fall in love with reading by giving them a specially selected free book each month from birth until their fifth birthday. By 2000 the scheme was so popular it was rolled out to different communities across the US.

The Nottingham story – The vision of the Imagination Library was first sparked in Nottingham in 2009 by Cheryl Mitchell, a Teaching Assistant at Fernwood Infant School, Wollaton. Cheryl campaigned to raise funds and encouraged people to support the charity.

Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to help to co-ordinate fundraising which enabled the Imagination Library to be set up in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough. Nottingham City Council’s Children’s Centres were enrolled to administer the scheme and Health Visitors promoted the scheme to parents.

The scheme is now running successfully in seven (soon to be nine) of the city’s 20 wards.