Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Imagination Library


Hello, internets. How the heck are you?

Things are good here. The Bean continues to not have molars but not Not have molars, either, which is something of a trial to him. Non-integer numbers of teeth are problematic. We are also, I think, in a non-integer nap phase, which is mostly a trial to me and Sugar. I’m all for his dropping a nap, since it has meant that the remaining nap is of a humane length, but these days, I haven’t got a clue when he does or doesn’t need a nap, which means lots of false starts, extra nursing, and frustration. I am beginning to be Over nursing him before naps, but I can’t figure out how to deal with phasing that out when I don’t even know when the dang things are supposed to be happening. So.

Then again, maybe the nap confusion is partly that thing that happens to sleep around developmental leaps, because, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have Walking. Not much of it, but at least a few hands-free steps, every day for the past week. Exciting stuff. Maybe the child can wear shorts outside this summer after all.

The Bean had his fifteen-month doctor visit, which I love because, as previously noted here, I adore the Bean’s doctor. I want her to be my doctor. And my neighbor. And maybe my best friend. Ahem. Boundaries! Anyway, she says the Bean is in working order and, while sort of tossing a screening questionnaire she clearly didn’t care if I ever filled out in my direction, “definitely not autistic.” He is still a tall drink of water, at 53rd percentile for height and a whopping 5th for weight. He got a slew more shots (yay, science! so much better than diphtheria!) and, as at his one-year visit, seemed bothered by them only at the time — so much nicer than the fever and wailing that characterized the days after vaccinations in his first year. Which was still So Much Better than diphtheria.

ANYWAY. I meant to be writing the rare (mostly) non-ranty post, mostly because I found these outdated but very cute pictures and wanted an excuse to force them on you. So.

Do you know how much I love Dolly Parton, internets? I just…a lot. I love her a lot. I was looking her up on Wikipedia just now to give you some reasons besides smile and sass and accent and wit and supporting gay marriage and playing the autoharp and found out she’s been married for 45 years to a shy fellow she met at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat, and damn if that doesn’t make me love her even more. He owns a paving company and writes poetry for her.

These days and maybe forever, though, my favorite thing about Dolly Parton is the Imagination Library, a program she started to give books to children in her home county in the Tennessee mountains. Any child, age 0-5, can get a free book in the mail every month. Any child. This isn’t a program for only poor children or only children in certain risk groups or whose parent are in some program or other, which is part of what I think is so wonderful about it. It is about reading and learning, not about pity or deserving.

In places outside of Sevier County, the Imagination Library will provide the infrastructure if local groups provide the funding. (There’s a great page on their site about how to get the program started in your area, if it isn’t there already.) NYC has it — although I have heard that some friends who try to sign up recently had trouble, so maybe there’s something changing — and the Bean has been getting books for a while now.

I felt a little strange at first, signing him up. We may not have much extra money around, what with living in an expensive place and my working part time for peanuts — I mean, for all the noble rewards of teaching, which, paired with two or three dollars, will buy you a cup of coffee — but we can afford a board book or two, we live near consignment stores and stoop sale sites and a heck of a library, and we have parents who are not likely to let the child go without the printed word, however dire things get otherwise. But the program is very clear on the idea that this isn’t meant to be only for kids who otherwise get no books nor is there some cap on the number of kids getting books, and I decided ultimately to take them on their word, figuring that we would give away any books we didn’t want or read anymore, and therefore our participation in the program would mean more books in some kid’s hands, not necessarily just ours.

I am so glad we did. For one thing, we have gotten some wonderful books out of the deal. Some, like Renata Liwska’s Red Wagon, I might have had the sense to want on my own, had I happened across them in a store. Others, like a Spot the dog flap book, I might have been too big a snob to like and in that way missed seeing how much the Bean loves them. I suppose he is allowed to have his own taste in his books, as long as he’s not attempting to defend Twilight.

There’s also just something magical about a surprise in the mail with your name on it, and the Bean already knows that. The books arrive wrapped in clear shrink wrap, and if there is one waiting by our basement mailbox, he insists on having it right away, before we even get upstairs.


He loves them, and with the exception of a couple of flaps in the Spot book that have required repair, they are treated with all the care a very young person can muster. I would swear he in some way knows that they are especially just his.

So thank you, Dolly Parton. Nine to five, that album with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, and all those marvelous tit jokes would have been enough, but for this, I will always love you:

New book!

13 thoughts on “Imagination Library

  1. Eeee! Look how happy he is! So cute 🙂

  2. I feel your pain with the molars. E. has been teething solidly for six weeks (?) now, and we just yesterday cut one molar. I think there is at least one more and three canines moving, so I have no idea when that will be over. Luckily he seems to be handling it really well, with only horrendous diapers and constant fingers in mouth as indicators that something is happening.

    Love the pics. And what a wonderful idea on Dolly Parton’s part. I love that it is open to all children and isn’t means tested. I would also have trouble rationalizing signing up for it, but I’m so glad you did. I really should write a post some day soon about favourite books, as I’m sure there are loads out there that I don’t know about. (I’ve also realized that my need to buy books has been channelled into a need to buy books for E. I use the library’s wonderful hold system now for my books, but can’t seem to resist picking them up for E.)

    And congrats to the Bean on the walking! That is very exciting news!

    • Do write some book posts! I have a mind to do the same. Part of what reminded me to write this post is how annoyed I am by one of the books that came, actually. I just thought it would be classy to express a little gratitude first. 😉

  3. Ooh! Imagination Library is so terrific. Alas, it has yet to come to our neighborhood. Not that the Turtles are hurting for books, what with one of their grandmothers personally undertaking it as her mission to build their library collection and mailing me at least a book a week for my entire pregnancy, but still, I thought I’d check since I know how very much my Turtles love books. Which is to say, about as much as you love Dolly. Also, Spot goes to the Farm–huge mega hit in our house. Our favorite part is when Spot looks for the baby animals and when we ask the Turtles if he found them, they shake their heads no in an adorable fashion.

    Glad the Bean is doing so well. We have similar updates on our fronts–a Lion who has had a molar peeking through for about two and a half weeks now and a Tiny who takes lots and lots of steps all the time yet still uses crawling as his primary means of locomotion about 90% of the time. We still seem to be at the two-nap point and I haven’t a clue how you go about dropping from 2 to 1 but I’m hoping they’ll teach me.

    Bean is adorable. Tall drink of water indeed.

  4. jealous. imagination library has not yet arrived to our area.

    as for the bean, i wanna eat him up!

  5. AWWWWW! Walking! I bet he’s the sweetest little walker ever! (The nap consolidation that’s supposed to magically happen? I don’t even know, man. I supect that just like everything else, it’s totally confusing and difficult and there are lots of ups and downs YAY PARENTHOOD! I’m glad you’ve got a doctor you trust–did she have any useful advice? Or do you even ask for tips of that kind from your ped? ANYWAY.)

    I didn’t know about IL. How utterly cool. And yes, the part about being married forever to a shy fellow–so damned endearing.

    There are a few books I’ve had to THROW AWAYbecause I can’t stand them (is it just me, or is that whole Oliva the Pig series deeply offensive? Or maybe you’ve been spared that because no-one gives you GIRL books?) but Bun Bun has also taught me about the value of certain seemingly loathsome books. In fact, the two books I mended yesterday because she loved them to pieces (My mother always mended our books with duct tape. Despite the fact that it’s mighty effective, I’ve sworn not to sink so low. Yesterday found me with the bookcloth and the pot of PVA mending Little Bunny…sigh.) were books I initially pooh-poohed.

    Finally, HI BEAN! You’re the picture of a perfect little boylet!

    • Ah, I am afraid I must disappoint you (or titallate you with our differences?) once again. I rather love Olivia. I have Olivia note cards, even. I know there’s a whole thing about not liking those books, but I just can’t get into it. Granted my perspective is different, as I found and enjoyed them as a childless adult, not as a parent thinking about modeling behavior.

      I didn’t ask the ped about the naps, and she’s not a prier. I’m sure she’d have something to say, but I doubt my own ability to present a coherent history on the topic, so I’d feel anyhow that any advice was based on a faulty understanding of the situation. Besides, these sleep problems are laughably minor compared to the ones of old, and, as you say, I imagine we will muddle through.

  6. What an awesome idea! I just read something about what I think was called “free libraries” where people put their books in little boxes (often empty newspaper boxes, from what I gathered) and the expectation is that if you take a book, you also leave one, which I think is cool too, but wonder about actually working… Anyway, I love the idea of getting books out to kids and need to read more about this Imagination Library and maybe make a donation or something!

  7. Why are you hating on my Twilight?

  8. Pingback: A good read « Res Cogitatae

  9. What kind of stroller do you have? I could kicky myself for not getting one that can rear face. I just did not know! The Bean looks so pleased with his new book.

    We have the Imagination Library here but opted not to participate. Juju’s cousin is 5 now and has gotten some books that are real gems and some that are meh. Be aware that around age 2 or 3 there are a LOT of “mommy and daddy love you” type books, if memory serves. Not that that’s a bad subject for a book, I just thought they were a bit tedious. Overall though, I think it’s a wonderful program and Dolly Parton is a class act for coming up with it.

    • It’s the bugaboo bee, which we love (and which, yes, cost a fortune, but it’s what we have instead of a car). Being able to switch direction was something I definitely wanted; if the stroller were less primary in our transportation scheme we might have gone with the much cheaper one from first years. It doesn’t do a one-piece fold, but that might not be as big a deal for you as it is with our buses. That said, the Bean is at an age where he increasingly wants to be forward-facing, so juju may be getting past the backwards age, too.

      We haven’t loved every book, either, but we still like the program.

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