Beebe Healthcare representatives were on hand May 5 to welcome Dolly Parton to the Wilmington Public Library.
One of the country’s most beloved musicians, Parton was in Delaware to celebrate her Imagination Library program, which has put more than 200 million books into the hands and hearts of children across the world, including those in Delaware.
The country music legend, humanitarian and philanthropist bedazzled the crowd with her infectious joy, and entertained fans including Gov. John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, with her own special storytelling through song.
The next day, the Carneys visited the Lewes Public Library to recognize the Sussex County champions of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and join a roundtable discussion on the initiative. The roundtable included representatives from the Delaware Division of Libraries, Lewes Public Library, Cape Henlopen School District, and pediatric healthcare provider Stacey Fox, MD, of Beacon Pediatrics.
“Beebe Healthcare is proud to be the first birth hospital in the First State to provide the first book to babies born at our Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus,” said Tom Protack, president of Beebe Medical Foundation. “Studies show that early childhood literacy can be tied to better health and wellness later in life, and our donors want to support Beebe Healthcare in this effort.”
Almost two years after implementing the program, close to 1,200 Baby’s First Book bags have been funded by Beebe Medical Foundation donors. Thanks to the coordination of Beebe’s nursery staff, led by Bridget Buckaloo, RN, director of Women’s and Children’s Services, registration in the program is facilitated and the book bag with the first Imagination Library book, Watty Piper’s classic, “The Little Engine That Could,” and other early literacy-related materials, is presented to all Beebe babies and their families at discharge.
When Carney announced the expansion statewide of DPIL through Delaware’s public libraries in August 2020, and Jennifer Noonan, children’s librarian and program coordinator for the Lewes Public Library contacted Beebe, the nonprofit local healthcare system was eager to sign up.
The Imagination Library program mails a free book every month to registered children from birth until they are 5 years old. It is an important component of the First Chance Delaware initiative for children, led by Tracey Qulllen Carney, that includes promoting learning readiness through literacy and parent-child engagement. Since Parton’s visit, the Governor’s Office has said more than 1,000 Delaware children have signed up for the Imagination Library. To date, the number of Delaware children enrolled in the program exceeds 21,000.
To support Beebe‘s early literacy programs and partnership in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, go to Beebe Medical Foundation at beebehealthcare.org/beebe-medical-foundation/donate or call 302-644-2900.