Panto-goers in Nottingham have helped to raise over £3,000 for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Nottingham Playhouse teamed up with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to raise funds for free books for children. The book-gifting scheme was one of the official panto charities for this year’s performances of Dick Wittington.

Volunteers from across the city collected funds at performances and the final total stands at £3,017.35. That means their generous donations have helped get 1,417 books for children in Nottingham.

Parents can register their new born babies with health visitors and each child enrolled in the scheme will receive 60 free books from birth to their fifth birthday; they are delivered to their door every month and they are theirs to keep forever.

The Imagination Library is about igniting a love of reading in children early on; books should be introduced into a child’s life when they are babies. It not only educates them earlier but it also brings families together.

This scheme is about early intervention and getting children ready for primary school; in Nottingham children are likely to start school with reading skills up to 14% behind the national average (see notes below). Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been proven to tackle this problem effectively and support children to improve early reading skills.

Councillor David Mellen, the Portfolio Holder for Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “I would like to thank every single person who donated to this great charity, your generosity is overwhelming and we would like to thank the Playhouse for getting behind the Imagination Library.

“This amazing charity helps to inspire children to love books. We know reading changes lives. It broadens horizons and opens up a whole world of opportunities. However, funds are needed to expand the scheme and make sure every child in Nottingham can be a part of it.

“My hope is one day every child aged 0-5 years in Nottingham will be part of the Imagination Library and they too can get a free book delivered to their home each month. Together we can ignite a lifelong passion for reading and give our children the very best start in life.”

Chief Executive at Nottingham Playhouse, Stephanie Sirr, said: “We were delighted to supporting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with collections after performances of Dick Whittington at Nottingham Playhouse. The charity does fantastic work to improve literacy, raise aspirations and bring families together through reading, so we thought it was an ideal opportunity to help them to raise some vital funds, our panto audiences have really excelled themselves with their kind donations.”

Parents can only register new born children with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, they need to speak to their Health Visitor, or head to their local Children’s Centre.

Currently not all areas of the city are eligible for the programme, again their Health Visitor can tell them if it’s available in their area.

The Imagination Library is currently registering new born babies in the Bilborough, Hyson Green, Radford, Dunkirk and Lenton Children’s Centre areas.

We will shortly extend registrations into Arboretum, Bulwell, Sneinton and St. Anns.