A campaign to encourage more parents to read with their children by providing free books to families in Nottingham is celebrating National Storytelling Week with the announcement that it has reached a major milestone.

Nottingham City Council has been working alongside the Rotary Club of Nottingham to co-ordinate fundraising since it chose to back Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in the city in 2012. In May 2015 council staff began donating monthly from their wages and holding fundraising drives, and have so far raised nearly £15,000. The overall total raised since 2012 is £213,000, enough to give out more than 39,000 books.

One of the biggest contributors to the Imagination library in Nottingham so far has been Castle Cavendish, who fund the scheme in Radford and Lenton

Children who have been signed up to the scheme in Bilborough, Hyson Green, Radford, Dunkirk & Lenton and Strelley will now receive a free book every month until their fifth birthday.

As part of National Storytelling Week (30 January to 6 February) people in Nottingham are needed to help raise even more money and provide local families with books.

National Storytelling Week will see events taking place in theatres, museums, libraries, schools, hospitals and care homes not only in Nottingham but across the whole country.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library supports National Storytelling Week by helping to bring families together for story time. A child gets a free book every month, which encourages parents to read with their children. This is proven to bring families closer and it can help to improve a child’s literacy.

Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “It’s really important that parents spend time reading with their children and by supporting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library we want to inspire children in Nottingham to love books.

“We know that reading changes lives by opening up a whole world of opportunities for children. Reaching this milestone during National Storytelling Week and as we prepare to celebrate National Libraries Day will hopefully encourage even more parents to explore books at home with their children.”

Kirsteen Watson, Regional Director of Dollywood Foundation UK, said: “The success of the Imagination Library is based on our partnerships. Joining Dolly’s vision, key partners have come together with a selfless spirit and common passion to make the Imagination Library possible for thousands of children. Currently 915,774 children receive books in the post every single month across the America, Canada, the UK and Australia.

“The goal is to help children love books and to love reading for a lifetime. Children who receive a monthly book in the post get excited about it, they want to share their books at home with their parents/carers and siblings. They provide a focus for some special time together to enjoy the stories, and help to build speech, communication and language skills. This helps to prepare children for school. Our specially selected books are a piece of a broad effort to transform the city of Nottingham and we are excited to be part of this vision.”

Nottingham children are likely to start school with reading skills up to 14% behind the national average. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been proven to tackle this problem effectively and support children to improve early reading skills.

The annual National Storytelling Week is organised by the Society for Storytelling.

During the week, there will be 14 “Tots-time” sessions for under-fives where stories, songs and rhymes will be enjoyed, along with eight readers’ groups where adults read and share their thoughts about a chosen book. In addition, there will be a special shadow puppet storytelling event at Nottingham Central Library in the evening on Friday 5 February.

Libraries are also celebrating National Libraries Day on Saturday 6 February by inviting the people of Nottingham to vote for their favourite children’s story book.

To donate to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library go to www.dollybooksnottingham.org