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The Harvey County Independent
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Halstead, KS 67056
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Children's Books Coming To Bentley Mailboxes

Posted 8/10/2017

By Jared Janzen

BENTLEY—Youngsters in the Bentley area will soon have a reason to get excited about checking their family’s mailbox. Children five and under living in the Bentley ZIP code (67016) are now eligible to sign up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which mails a new book to kids once a month.

The program is available thanks to a grant from the Central Kansas Community Foundation Kids FUNd applied for by Marcia Mueller, third-grade teacher at Bentley Primary School.

“I’m super excited that families will have the opportunity to receive free books,” Mueller said. “Data has shown amazing results for the children that have participated in the program when it comes to their literacy skills once they reach school age.”

The program had previously been available to children in Harvey County, but with the Halstead-Bentley school district stretching across two counties, this left out many families residing in Bentley.

According to Mueller, 42 children with Halstead addresses are currently enrolled.

She said an estimated 54 children in the Bentley area could benefit from the program, based on data from the Sedgwick County United Way.

“I want all of our Halstead/Bentley families that have children under the age of five to have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program,” Mueller said.

The Imagination Library mails books to more than a million children every month in more than 1,600 communities across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, according to the Imagination Library website.

Mueller learned about the program through her experiences as USD 440’s Kansas Teacher of the Year nominee during the previous school year. This honor included touring other school districts to gain new ideas, and the Imagination Library is one of numerous ideas she decided to pursue. So far she’s also received a $1,000 grant from Wolf Creek to start coding and robotics at Bentley Primary School.

Halstead-Bentley Superintendent Tom Alstrom said he hopes receiving a book in the mail each month will encourage kids to sit down with their parents and enjoy the stories together. Instituting this program for Bentley students was all thanks to Mueller, he said.

“Marcia has done all the legwork,” he said. “I can’t take any credit.”

Alstrom said the district would like to better promote the Imagination Library program as the new school year gets underway so more parents know of the available opportunity. He added that he would speak with the school board about possibly subsidizing the program. The program’s availability will continue until the grant funds are used up.

Families in Sedgwick County that would like to register their child or children for the program can do so online at www.imaginationlibrary.com. Families in Harvey County must register with a paper form that will be available during back-to-school conferences at the primary school and middle school. Any questions about registering for the program may be directed to Mueller at mmueller@usd44.com.