Children of Lake Geneva can now get a free book every month, at birth up to the age of five. | local news

Children in the Lake Geneva region and Bloomfield / Genoa can get a free book each month through a program created by legendary singer Dolly Parton.

The Walworth County Reading Project was set up in July to help bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program to the area.

The program allows children to get a free book every month until their fifth birthday. A non-profit affiliate must be created in order to offer the program in an area. Carrie Spiegelhoff, chair of the Walworth County Reading Project Council, said the Walworth County Reading Project had been formed to serve as an affiliated not-for-profit so the program could be made available in Walworth County.

She said the program would initially be offered in Lake Geneva and the city of Genoa with the aim of expanding it to other Walworth County communities.

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“The organization has begun to support the imaginary library coming to Lake Geneva and County Walworth,” Spiegelhoff said. “We started that slowly in the Lake Geneva region and the city of Genoa, and will eventually expand around the county when we receive some additional funding for the regions around the lake and the county in general.”

Lake Geneva Jays members recently donated nearly $11,000 to the Walworth County Reading Project, to help launch the program in Lake Geneva and the city of Genoa.

“It gave us what we needed to be a seed, because we have to have a certain amount to become a seed,” said Doug Bartz, Walworth Reading County Project Board Member.

Parents enroll their children in the program by visiting and entering the zip code, child information, date of birth, and address. The program is intended for children between the ages of birth and 5 years.

“Usually, within five to eight weeks, they will receive their first welcome book, and then a month thereafter the child will receive an age-appropriate book in the mail,” Spiegelhoff said. Every year they change the selection of books according to age. The first book is always “The Little Engine that Can”, then based on their age, each month they will receive a different book selected by the Imagination Library. “

Bartz said the Reading Project plans to meet with other local nonprofit organizations to encourage them to sponsor the program for other Walworth County communities.

“We want to move quickly to get the whole county involved, because we don’t want anyone in that area to sign in and see that their zip code isn’t covered yet,” Bartz said. “So we want to get our entire county running as fast as we can.”

Bartz said they also plan to inform local schools, libraries and daycare centers about the program. He said the program helps children develop an interest in reading before they go to kindergarten.

“It’s great that parents get these books for free for their kids, because it gets them involved,” Bartz said. “We look at this as a building block for lifelong education and the skills they will develop that will make them better in their adult lives.”

Spiegelhoff, a member of Lake Geneva’s Joint No. 1 School Board, said representatives from the school district informed parents about the program.

So far, she said, 161 children in the Lake Geneva and Genoa regions have registered for the programme.

Residents can become individual sponsors by visiting The cost to be a sponsor is $25 per year for one child.

The names of people or groups who become sponsors of the program will be published on book posters distributed in their community.

“The mailing label will bear the name of the organization or person who has donated to help make this free book possible,” Spiegelhoff said. “What kid doesn’t love books, and how can you argue $25 a year for a kid for free books?”

For more information about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library or the Walworth County Reading Project, send an email to

The Dolly Parton Fiction Library was founded in 1995 and is available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. The program has provided nearly 150 million free books to children since its inception.

Spiegelhoff said she and her husband registered their first child on the show when they were living in Tampa, Florida. She said they were happy with the program and wanted to make it available to residents of Walworth County.

“I loved it. It was fun as an adult to get a new book in the mail, because you are starting your own children’s library,” Spiegelhoff said. “Once kids are old enough to go to the mailbox, we want them to be excited about getting their own mail, which sometimes is a new thing these days.”


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