The Friends of the Library of Newton County, Ark, on behalf of the Newton County Imagination Library (NCIL), received a grant for $1,500 from the Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) program and the Arkansas Imagination Library (ARIL) for the purpose of enrolling children in Newton County in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL). The CLSD-ARIL Emergency Book Assistance Grant provides support to DPIL affiliates in Arkansas by providing funds to cover their monthly book invoice. NCIL has undertaken an enrollment drive, 230 by Sept. 30, using the grant funds to cover the cost of increasing new registrations to reach at least 60%, about 230, of the county's children ages birth to 5, by Sept. 30.

NCIL formed in Dec. 2019 with 30 children transferred from the Mt. Judea Imagination Library when the two programs merged into one county-wide program under NCIL coordinator Kenya Windel, the director of the Newton County Library. NCIL now serves 171, or 45%, of the county's estimated 380 children under age 5, and 36 of those children have been added since the enrollment drive began on June 19. NCIL's goal is to add at least 60 more children to the program before Sept. 30. In addition to putting books in the hands of more county children, the enrollment drive will also maximize a 50% matching program set to begin in October 2020 from the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Arkansas Imagination Library.

The purpose of the Imagination Library is to foster a love of reading in preschool children. Children are eligible from birth up to 5 years of age. To be eligible for enrollment in NCIL, children must be under 5 years of age and must live in Newton County. Registered children receive 1 book per month through their 5th birthday at no cost to their families. The program is supported through fundraising efforts and donations. The registration form asks for the child's first, middle, and last names, birthdate, and gender, parent/guardian's name, phone number, email address, and mailing address. No financial or other information is asked for or required. When the child's registration is processed, the parent/guardian will receive a welcome email. Registration can be completed online at or by contacting the Newton County Library at 870-446-2983 or

Fundraising efforts are on-going, and donations are accepted anytime. NCIL thanks Local Champions Bertie Wells, Mt. Judea Area Alliance/Mt Judea Imagination Library, Deer/Mt. Judea School District, Jasper School District, Buffalo Outdoor Center, Joe and Katherine Nance, and other individual donors for providing current funding. $25 sponsors 1 child for 1 year to receive 12 books. $5,750 covers the cost of 60% of the county's children receiving a book per month for a year, a total of 2,760 books. If all of the county's approximately 380 children were enrolled, the cost would be $9,500 per year and would total 4,560 books. If you or your organization would like to help sponsor NCIL and provide books to Newton County preschoolers, please contact Kenya Windel at the Newton County Library.

Jeff Dezort, Newton County Times editor, has worked at the newspaper since 2001. Before that he was a reporter, photographer and assistant editor of the Harrison Daily Times.

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