Dolly Parton is in Rotherham tomorrow. She is here as part of her Imagination Library project, which Rotherham council is interested in.
Now, the scheme sounds good- free books sent every month to children between birth and age 5. Anything that gets books into homes must be good, right?
Partly, yes. But without an equal effort in getting parents to read these books to/with their children, the danger is the books don’t get used. The mere presence of books isn’t a magical route to reading. There has to be a commitment in the home- and in schools it must be said- to reading.
Also the long term cost for the council has yet to be discussed; the Foundation pays for postage and other admin, but the local authority has to stump up too.
Such monies- or at the least, some of such monies- would be more effectively spent on improving the range of books in libraries, improving school libraries, extending the opening hours for pulic libraries and providing support in reading for adults.
Still, the Leader of the Council gets to meet Dolly Parton.
Update: according to the BBC’s Politics Show, the local Chamber of Commerce will fund the books.