FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2014) — Kentucky would launch a statewide initiative to foster an appreciation for books among its preschoolers under a bill that cleared the House today by a vote of 97-0.
House Bill 341, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would create the “Books for Brains” program to provide age-appropriate books for children age five and under who are registered to receive the books through an arrangement with a private nonprofit. The nonprofit would be in charge of book selection and mailing, while local partners in Kentucky counties would help coordinate the program.
The program — which would be governed by a seven-member board appointed by the governor — would be based on the popular Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, which provides books to preschool age children in the U.S. and other countries.
“Print-rich environments are a good thing,” Tilley said. “In fact, one particular study says that kids from print-rich environments enter school with seven times the vocabulary of kids who don’t have books in the home.”
HB 341 would also create a restricted fund to be administered by the state. No funds have yet been appropriated for the program, said Tilley, who pushed an amendment through the House that clarifies the board would only be required to provide funding for the program as private donations, grants and other funds become available.
Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, who, like Tilley, represents part of Trigg County where a similar program is underway, said “it is just truly awesome the effect (this program) has on the community, on kids, and if we’re serious about education this is a foundational plate that I think we’d start with.”