City needs nonprofit to take over free books program

library reading copley square boston public library books
The program was intended to be handed over to a nonprofit organization, according to the city’s Department of Education. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

A program that delivered popular children’s books to 20,000 children in low-income neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs was abruptly ceased last fall, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The program was a partnership between the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the city Department of Education to boost literacy rates in low-income households with children up to the age of five.

It apparently took months for confused parents to be notified, and then only by email from the Dollywood Foundation on April 22, despite parents recounting several phone calls to the Department of Education that went unanswered.

Bronx mother Melissa Kim said she and her 18-month-old daughter, Lauren, were perplexed and disappointed by the sudden cut-off.

“We had read the books together every night,” Kim said. “Even if she couldn’t read them, she loved looking at them.”

According to the Dollywood Foundation, the city paid $2 per book. City officials reportedly told the Journal that the project was initially funded by a $750,000 grant from the state Department of Education.

A spokesperson for the city Department of Education reportedly said it was a pilot program to be handed over to a nonprofit organization “considering the unpredictability of state funding and in order to make the program sustainable for the long term.”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



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