Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program took another step toward increasing literacy among children when students in the UTC Teacher Preparation Academy created new exercises for parents to use as they read to their children.

Parton’s program, begun in 1996, offers Tennessee children up to age five a free, brand new, age appropriate book each month. The UTC students created activities for parents to use with the books they receive each month. The extension activities enhance language and comprehension skills for the children.

Though the education students’ efforts began regionally, after they presented their Beyond the Book curriculum at a recent Dollywood Foundation conference and United Way Southern Neighbors conference, educators around the country began asking for permission to use the activities.

The Beyond the Book activities are being used in two communities in Minnesota, Iowa, Tennessee, and Wasilla and Anchorage, Alaska.

“My students are very pleased to be a part of a regional effort to make parents’ read alouds to children more meaningful. They know that they are helping caregivers talk more with their children about a book, and that asking questions and discussing a book is one of the most important ways that parents prepare their children for kindergarten,” said Dr. Sarah Sandefur, UC Foundation Association Professor of Literacy Education.  Sandefur had students develop the reading activities as part of coursework related to Project Ready for School, a United Way program.

The reading activities give parents tools to use before, during, and after reading the book. The lessons help children recognize pictures, make sounds associated with the book, and make crafts.

To learn more about the UTC Teacher Preparation Academy or Beyond the Book activities, call 423-425-1781.

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