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Storybook memories are in the mail each month

To me, there is nothing better than curling up in my recliner with a good book—and my little Madeline.
In just a few months, “my baby” will be four years old.
I can’t even imagine how many books we’ve read or how many times we’ve read the same book over and over, and over again.
Some of her favorite selections have been delivered right to our mailbox through the Imagination Library of Tuscola County. In fact, Madeline was one of the first kids in Tuscola County to be signed up when it started here January 2009.
Each month, a new storybook, wrapped in shiny plastic, is placed in our mailbox. Her name is printed on the label, making it her very own.
She always spies it quickly.
“Is that for me? Is that my new book?”
Anticipation follows.
“Open it! Read it to me!”
We read it. We read it. We might even read it again.
Most importantly, we dig into the story. As we read, we create voices and growls, squeaks and screams—anything to make the story come alive. We count things in the pictures and discuss how the characters feel and act.
It works.
Very often, Madeline can be found with a book, “reading” it and reciting the general plot of the story in her own way.
The love of reading already runs deep in her heart. In part, I can thank the Imagination Library of Tuscola County for creating some of that excitement.
In fact, there are currently 1,758 kids in Tuscola County who receive the gift of a storybook in their mailbox each month, thanks to the Imagination Library. Perhaps some of those children would have no books at all if it weren’t for the Imagination Library.
There’s no cost to parents or guardians, because Dolly Parton, the founder of the national Imagination Library movement, designed the program to be self-sustaining. She only wanted the program to benefit children. So, there’s no income guidelines.
These books are simply free for all children, ages 0-5. In fact, 881 area children have already graduated from the program, receiving the books until they turned five.
But, is anything really free? To the kids, yes. But somebody has to make it all happen.
In order to get these books into the hands of children, a tireless group of volunteers does fund-raising and chases down grant money to keep the library afloat.
Realistically, each book costs an average of $2.08, including shipping.
In just five years, that totals $150 per child.
So, it’s not cheap. But, it is one fantastic program.
Next week, there’s an opportunity to support the program while enjoying a night out on the town. A wine and cheese tasting fund-raiser is planned at The Gardens at Grice’s, 2560 Mertz Rd., just south of Caro. The event is set for March 29, 6-9 p.m. and last year, it raised about $7,000.
There will be a charity auction and excellent wines by Opperman’s Cork ‘n’ Ale and gourmet cheeses and hors d’oeuvres by Artisiano of Caro.
Tickets are $25 and each one features a coupon for JJ Jamokes. Call Susan Walker at (989) 673-8283 or Mandy Knox at (989) 550-8229 for more information. If you cannot attend, but would still like to donate to this worthy cause, send a check to Susan Walker at 1054 E. Northwood Dr. Caro, MI 48723.
It may not be completely free to keep our local Imagination Library going strong, but the benefits certainly are priceless.

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