Imagination library of middle Tennessee

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Inspiring a Love of Reading

In partnership with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation and the Dollywood Foundation, Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee delivers an age-appropriate, high-quality book each month straight to children’s mailboxes at no cost to families.

All children in Tennessee, from birth to age five, are eligible at no cost to families. Books are personalized with the child’s name and mailed directly to their home, making books exciting and inspiring a love for reading at an early age.

United Way raises funds to support the cost of the books and to build awareness of this important program. Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee has distributed more than 500,000 books to 45,000 children throughout the region.

Why It’s Important: Children who are read to regularly and early in life are better prepared for school. Ninety percent of physical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, when a baby forms more than one million new neural connections per second. Those early years are a critical window of opportunity for learning words and language.

Resources for Parents and Caregivers

Children develop a special bond with their parents and caregivers when they read together, and it establishes an important foundation for future learning. The earlier you start, the better! Children who are avid readers were read to every day from a very young age, so make reading a regular event in your home. And read the same book over (and over); it reinforces language development and encourages children to participate.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage good reading habits with your child:

Birth to 2 Years Old

  • Read for short periods with your child on your lap or next to you. Being close to you is likely just as important as the reading. Take a break if your child is unhappy or fussy.
  • Keep books handy! Set up a space to keep your child’s books where they will be accessible.

2 to 3 Years Old

  • Ask your child simple questions about the book. Examples: What was your favorite part of the book? Where did Corduroy go when he explored the store?
  • Point out letters in the text. Example: Let’s find the “M”s on this page.
  • Have your child open the cover and turn the pages of the book while you read.
  • Ask your child to name items in the pictures before reading the text.
  • Encourage your child to “read” with you on familiar books and repetitive text.

3 to 5 Years Old

  • Ask questions about the characters or the story that require predicting, imagining or making inferences. Examples: How do you think Madeline feels right now? If you were Peter Rabbit, what would you do?
  • Relate books to your child’s life. Example: Can you think of a time you were reluctant to try something new like Little Burro?
  • Point out beginning sounds. Example: Did you hear a word that started with the same MMMMM sound as your name?
  • Practice letter names. Example: Name the letters you recognize on the cover of the book.
  • Encourage your child to read common words. Example: This word, t-h-e, is the. Help me read “the” when you see it in the book.
  • Respond to your child’s questions about letters, numbers and reading.

In Partnership With

we’re seeing results


Children enrolled to receive ILMT books monthly


Books were sent out last year


Eligible children reached


All-time graduates