Storytimes are public library’s ‘bread and butter’


Did you know that literacy is one of the single greatest predictors of a person’s ability to succeed? Everyday tasks like reading a food label, following a doctor’s written instructions, or reading a public transportation schedule all depend on a functional basis of literacy.

Even further, 87% of the jobs available on a search database like are closed to someone without a high school diploma, which drastically decreases the chance for someone who is functionally illiterate to find a job and gain financial independence to support themselves or a family.

Public libraries understand that literacy begins at birth. This is the primary reason why storytimes are what some call a public library’s “bread and butter.” These fun, free gatherings are more than just stories and songs. They are teaching kids the foundations of reading – elements like singing, playing, talking, writing and reading.

By the age of 3, a child’s brain is already 80% developed, and by the time a child enters kindergarten, they must already know thousands of words in order to succeed in the classroom. Reading aloud to a child and giving them access to books is the best way to ensure they are prepared to enter kindergarten.

The Delaware County District Library partners with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to send every child from birth to age 5 a new book (to keep!) each month. A child who enrolls at birth and stays with the program until their fifth birthday could begin kindergarten already having 60 books of their very own!

We will be promoting the Imagination Library now through April at all DCDL branches. Look for pop-up displays, promotional materials, and more when you attend storytime or stop by one of the DCDL locations to pick up materials.

As a personal testimony, both of my children have participated in the Imagination Library, and they each have created deep connections to some of the books they have received. The books are specially selected, age-appropriate, high-quality titles, and they are reviewed on an annual basis. We have received classics (“Very Hungry Caterpillar”), bilingual selections, and new-to-me stories (“The Rabbit Listened”). However, one of their favorite aspects of the program is that each book is mailed to our home with their name on it. You can imagine how special it feels for a 3-year-old to receive her very own piece of mail!

If you’re ready to enroll your child in this free program, go ahead and visit to begin the enrollment process. If your children are already beyond the age limit, but you want to contribute to the success of the program, you can go to It costs just $25 to sponsor one child for a year.

Thankfully, in Delaware County, we have more than half of our eligible children enrolled – 51.29% to be exact. We’d love to see that number grow in 2023. Feel free to ask any of our librarians about the program, or send me a note when you’ve got a moment. I’m always “glad you asked.”

Reading recommendations this week will come from the titles that the oldest group of Imagination Library recipients will receive in 2023 (those children who were born in 2018 and will turn 5 this year).

• “Spend It!” by Cinders McLeod. Sonny gets three whole carrots a week for his allowance and wants to buy everything! But he quickly discovers his money won’t go that far, and he has to make some choices. A charming introduction to simple money concepts in which a bunny learns he can’t buy everything he wants with his allowance.

• “In Our Garden” by Pat Zietlow Miller and Melissa Crowton. Missing her home and the garden where her family used to grow food, Millie notices that her new school’s flat roof would be perfect for a garden and soon has the whole school and community coming together to help.

• “I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared” by Seth Meyers and Rob Sayegh, Jr. When you’re a bear who is easily scared, it’s hard to have friends. Fortunately, Bear has one: Rabbit, who is very brave. One day, Rabbit urges Bear to face his fears and embark on an adventure together. However, things don’t entirely go as planned, and the two friends learn the true meaning of bravery.

• “The Tree in Me” by Corinna Luyken. A compassionate portrait of the strength in all of us and the nourishment that we receive from the natural world blends poetic text with high-detail artwork to illustrate the intricate ways that all human beings are resilient, creative and connected to each other.

• “Rabbit’s Snow Dance” by James and Joseph Bruchac, and Jeff Newman. A whimsical wintertime fable finds Rabbit using a traditional Iroquois drum and song to perform a snow dance, irritating his fellow creatures by causing incremental snowfall amounts well into the spring. Joseph and James Bruchac are a father-son storytelling pair who share a deep commitment to the preservation of the Abenaki Indian culture and traditions, which is part of their heritage.

By Nicole Fowles

Glad You Asked

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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