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Published July 01, 2012, 11:30 PM

Favorite Things: Sherri (and Eve’s) favorite Imagination Library books

FARGO - If there’s one thing my husband and I hope to instill in our children, it’s a love of learning. That love begins with reading.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

Editor’s note: SheSays Favorites is a weekly feature in SheSays that runs each Monday. SheSays staffers will gather a few of their favorite things to share with readers. Do you have a favorite you’d like to share? Email shesays@forumcomm.com.

FARGO - If there’s one thing my husband and I hope to instill in our children, it’s a love of learning. That love begins with reading.

That’s why I’m a huge fan of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that mails an age-appropriate book to a child each month for free, regardless of income.

When that book arrives, it’s a new literary adventure for our daughter and an exposure to new words and images for our son.

Locally, Imagination Library is administered by United Way of Cass-Clay. Any child in the two counties, birth to age 5, can sign up. The cost to sponsor a child is $27 a year.

Since starting in our community in 2003, more than 808,000 books have been mailed to nearly 27,000 local children, says Kristina Hein, marketing director for the United Way of Cass-Clay. Currently, books are mailed to about 8,750 children each month. According to Census data, that’s nearly 60 percent of children age 0-5 who live in the two participating counties.

A 2011 book list for the Imagination Library program boasts about 80 different titles, Hein says. The first book sent is always “The Little Engine That Could.” The last, “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”

A quick inventory of our bookshelves shows we have no fewer than 57 titles through the program. Our daughter Eve has been receiving books since she was an infant, and we inherited a stack of books from her older cousin.

Here are a few of our favorites:

“Kitty Up” by Elizabeth Wojtusik – While the entire book contains only 33 different words, its simple but poignant rhymes and whimsical illustrations weave a heartwarming tale of adventure and friendship. This is probably my favorite, though not necessarily Eve’s.

“My Lucky Day” by Keiko Kasza – A clever pig outwits a fox who thinks he’s the lucky one when the piglet comes knocking on his door.

“Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy” by David Soman and Jacky Davis – A more recent addition to our home library, my daughter loves to read about the playground adventures of Lulu and Sam. It’s inspired us to form our own “Bug Squad” in the back yard on more than one occasion.

“Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney – If only I were as cool as little llama’s mama. These domesticated pack animals perfectly portray a preschooler’s daily drama and the parent/child relationship. (Dewdney’s “Llama Llama Mad at Mama” is another Imagination Library fave.)

“Firefighters to the Rescue” by Kersten Hamilton – The torn and loose pages in our copy show how well-loved this book is. It’s a rhyming, day-in-the-life look at some yellow-coated, red hat-wearing heroes.

“A Mud Pie for Mother” by Scott Beck – A sweet pig goes hunting for a birthday present for his mom, and discovers the smallest gestures mean the most.