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With Books from Birth, Wilson County kids get early ‘taste’ for reading

He certainly can’t read yet, but nine-month-old Jackson McGriff is already reaping benefits from having books around the house.  And thanks in part to Books from Birth, his academic potential is likely to grow right along with the stack of books on his nursery bookshelf over the next few years.

McGriff is one of more than 4,400 Wilson County children who receive an Imagination Library book through the mail every month from Wilson Books from Birth.  His mother, Audrey, is a big believer in the benefits of the program.

“Jackson already gets so excited when we read, focusing on the pictures and trying to turn the pages,” his mother Audrey McGriff said.  “I know reading is important to his development, and it’s wonderful that he gets a quality, age-appropriate book free every month through the Imagination Library program.”

Audrey, who has worked in a day care at a county school, says the books will serve as a tool for Jackson’s learning throughout his early years.  That’s what makes his growing collection so valuable, according to Wilson Books from Birth Chairman Peggy Simpson.

“Research increasingly supports the idea that children who grow up around books achieve better educational outcomes in school,” Simpson said.  “Scientists also indicate that 80 percent of a child’s brain develops before age 5, so it is important that we do all we can to give children get an early start, and that’s the purpose of Books from Birth.”

The program continues to grow in Wilson County:

More than 250,000 books have been delivered through the program locally.

About 60 percent of all Wilson County children under 5 are receiving books.

More than 5,000 children have completed the Wilson Books from Birth program. 

An upcoming event will give all members of the community a chance to help feed local children’s need for knowledge, and in the process feed themselves some great dishes from local chefs.  Books from Birth is one of the Lebanon/Wilson Chamber education programs that receives proceeds from Taste of Wilson County, which begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, on the grounds of the Wilson Bank & Trust Main Office in Lebanon.  Advance tickets to Taste of Wilson County can be purchased for $15 at WB&T’s Wilson County locations, at the Chamber of Commerce or at participating restaurants.

Wilson Books from Birth replicated the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Wilson County in September 2005 in partnership with the Dollywood Foundation and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation.  The pre-k literacy program provides free new age appropriate books every month to children from birth to age 5, regardless of income.  There are only three requirements – the child must live in Wilson County, be under age five and be registered in the program.  All of Wilson County’s 7,300 children under age five have access to Books from Birth.

 “If your child is not registered in the Imagination Library program, you and your child are really missing out on a good thing,” Simpson said.  

To learn more about the Imagination Library program or get information about registering a child, visit or call 615-444-5586.

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