we don't just give, we engage!
The gift of reading for one child becomes the gift of reading for many.
The idea to start "First Library" came after my friend, Diane, had her first child. I wanted to give my love of reading to her and her newborn child. I sent Diane some books as a gift for her to read to her newborn son, Lubin.
Diane later explained that she was having a hard time finding English language children’s books to read to her son and that my books were the perfect gift for a new first time mother (from the United States living in France).
I began mailing her a new children’s book every month. Many of the titles were the childhood favorites of my own children.
Diane would call or write to tell me how she, and later her son, Lubin, happily anticipated the arrival of their monthly book and the joy they received reading it together and how they both looked forward to reading time.
She especially enjoyed the comfort reading a book before bedtime brought to her son, Lubin.
Later, her husband, Pascal, a native Parisian, began to read to their son and was learning to read and write in English himself.
After a few years, Lubin, who was now reading his gift books by himself, was proudly displaying and sharing his ever-growing first library with friends and family.
I thought if one book could bring so much happiness, joy, and comfort to just one child, how much could it bring to multiple children?
It was then that I decided to create First Library™.
I began researching ways to implement such the program on a larger scale and discovered the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program (imaginationlibrary.com).
Ms. Parton created the program in 1995 for Sevier County children in her native Tennessee.
Each child, regardless of gender, race or income, registered in the Imagination Library program received a book each month until the age of five, paid for by Ms. Parton’s Dollywood Foundation.
For the first three years she only distributed books to these Tennessee children.
In 2000, she allowed the replication of the program to other states.
I decided then to become an affiliate.
The program was available (originally) to all children under the age of five, like the Imagination Library.
But after much thought and consideration, and especially research on my part, I decided to redesign the program and take it in another direction.
I wanted to recreate the happiness, joy and comfort Lubin felt reading his first books plus the gratitude his first time mother, Diane, expressed sharing the "First Library Program" with her newborn son, while also promoting local library patronage.
And I wanted to give new first time mothers, like Diane, an opportunity to "earn" additional books, aside from the monthly free book, through free reading related activities.
Today, First Library is more than a free monthly book program.
It's an incentive and reward program too.
Beyond the daily reading and monthly library visits of the new First Library program, First Library parents can also earn points for free gifts (books) with increased participation to shop at our First Library Book Shop for their child.
First Library Book Shop™ offers first time mothers additional free books during their child's first three years of life by performing various free reading related activities through the More First Library program.
An ADDED BONUS: First time mothers receive gifts for continued participation.
I also decided to devise a program for first time mothers in need (First Baby) that was tailored to their and their first born child's special circumstances.
The program would give first time parents in need the First Library book program (or other books) and gently used clothing and educational toys during their child's first three years of life, free of charge, by requiring parents to read to their child daily and submit a reading log monthly.
I decided thereafter to only offer the free book program to newborn children of first time mothers.
Just like the original First Library program was redesigned to better fit my vision and new mission, I have redesigned the First Baby program, now Most First Library, with the expanded new vision of the First Library program with an emphasis on healthy and responsible parenting, as well as reading and journaling.
I wanted to recreate the excitement, awe and inquisitiveness my children experienced with their continued and ever increasing exposure to books and literature while giving their parents the opportunity to "earn" new clothing and educational toys during their child's first three years of life, free of charge.
This new improved program can better prepare children in need for a lifetime love of reading and books.
An ADDED BONUS: First time mothers in need can also receive gifts for continued participation.
In closing, by refocusing our efforts on first born children only, First Library can bring the program to all new families who are experiencing the love of reading and book ownership for the first time plus encourage a respect and appreciation for literature, family reading time and library patronage.
I hope you will join me and bring the First Library program to every newborn child (of a first time mother) in New Jersey... and beyond.
Catherine Tinger Goldberg