A scheme that gives free books to children has reached a major milestone in Nottingham.

A total of 250,000 books have now been delivered to children aged 0-5 in Nottingham through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The book-gifting charity was introduced in the city in 2009 and now has more than 5,600 children registered to have a free book delivered to their door every month – covering ten of the city’s 20 wards.

The Imagination Library is proven to improve children’s literacy levels so that they are more likely to be ready to start school when they turn five. Age appropriate books are delivered addressed to the child every month from birth, allowing them to build up a library of 60 books over five years.

Cllr David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “This is a significant milestone for our city – a quarter of a million books is a fantastic gift to the children of Nottingham over the last ten years.

“I believe these books will have helped our children’s early development and literacy; they will have played a part in helping them to achieve more at school and – I hope – develop the joy of reading and begin a life-long love of books.

“I’m proud of how the charity has grown in the city in the last decade. This is down to the generosity of sponsors and fundraisers who have donated to the Imagination Library; it is an incredible achievement to have more than 5,600 children now receiving the free books every month.

“However, our ambition is clear: we want every child in Nottingham to receive a free book every month.”

A teaching assistant in Wollaton first sparked the vision of the Imagination Library in Nottingham in 2009. Momentum gathered when the Rotary Club of Nottingham worked with Nottingham City Council to co-ordinate fundraising which enabled the Imagination Library to be set up in the Nottingham neighbourhood of Bilborough in 2012.

Cllr Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, said: “Not all Nottingham children have access to a range of books in their home and we know that sharing stories regularly can help children be ready for nursery, by which time we know that some Nottingham children are already behind in their development in comparison to their peers.

“Our children deserve the best possible start in life. We know that reading with children is one of the best ways to set them up for a bright future.”

The Nottingham scheme is supported by local organisations, The Rotary Club of Nottingham and Small Steps Big Changes – but it relies on ongoing sponsorship.

In January this year, the city council’s Big Reading Challenge raised £6,121 for the Imagination Library in Nottingham. City councillors – including Cllr Mellen and Cllr Barnard – spent a week reading to more than 8,300 people at schools, libraries, nurseries and children centres across Nottingham.

Every donation helps:

  • £2 can pay for a child to get a new book
  • £25 can pay for a child to get a new book each month for a year
  • £125 pays for a child to get a book every month from birth until their 5th birthday

More information about the Imagination Library in Nottingham is available at www.dollybooksnottingham.org.uk.