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Monroe Co. Imagination Library looking for "missing children" in reading program

Leaders are looking for the children who are not signed up for Dolly Parton's free book program so they can sign them up, & they're doing it in an unorthodox way.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Monroe County Imagination Library leaders say they have a problem. Only 62% of children under five are enrolled in the county's Imagination Library program.

Monroe County's solution? An eye-catching headline in a local paper.

Suzanne Wilson said her husband came up with the idea to call the kids who are not enrolled in the Imagination Library "the missing children." She says they hoped the name would make people think twice about what these kids are missing out on.

And she said it's now working. 

In the weeks since the article titled "Missing Children" ran in the Monroe County Buzz, Wilson said she's had more than two dozen calls from people hoping to get a new child added to the program.

Credit: Monroe County Buzz
Monroe Co. Imagination Library looking for "missing children"

Any child in Tennessee under the age of 5 can enroll in the program, which was started by Dolly Parton in 1995. It provides children with a free book every month until they are 5 years old.

About 70% of eligible children across Tennessee are enrolled in the program, according to the state.

The program is now using new partnerships to find "hard-to-reach" children and enroll them early on.

The Tennessee Department of Health and local hospitals provide families with all the paperwork they need to enroll in the program before they even leave the hospital. 

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is also working to identify and enroll children whose families may not know about the program.

To sign up online, just fill out the form at this link.

If you want to help enroll a "missing child" in Monroe County, you can call or email Suzanne Wilson at (423) 295-4998 or bobwilson@tds.net.

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