Children ‘Book It to the Bridge’ Thursday morning

Reading can often be a boring or sometimes painful prospect for young children, but getting to parade down the city to a police escort and getting to hang out in the park? That can change children’s perspectives on the matter.

Hundreds of children paraded through downtown Elizabethton Thursday morning, many of them chanting the reason for their celebration, “We love books.”

The Imagination Library held their “Book It to the Bridge” parade Thursday as a way to celebrate reading and its potential impact on children as they learn.

“We are celebrating Imagination Library week,” chairperson of the Imagination Library Lilo Duncan said.

The parade was filled with pre-K and kindergarten children from both city and county elementary schools, including Harold McCormick, Unaka and Happy Valley.

Leading the initial parade at around 9:30 a.m. were the Unaka High School marching band, as well as students from Unaka and Elizabethton High School’s Key Clubs.

The latter dressed up as storybook characters.

All of this, Duncan said, helps promote the Imagination Library’s efforts in the community.

“Children get a free book once a month until they are five years old,” she said. “It is to help children in reading.”

She said programs like this help children get a headstart in life by learning to love reading while they’re young, which boosts their literacy rate as they get older.

Once the parade arrived at the Covered Bridge Park, Josh Smith for WJHL met them to read a story out loud to the whole group from the center stage. After that, the crowd split into smaller groups to hear stories form the Key Club students, as well as visit the Betsy Book Bus, which let them take a book home to read on their own or with their parents.

“My favorite part is the children,” Duncan said. “They enjoy being the star.”

The Imagination Library started in 2005 in East Tennessee due to the efforts of Dolly Parton. Now it is a national organization that has taken its vision of the future across the world.

“It feels pretty good,” Duncan said about the parade. “Anything to help the children. They are the future of our nation.”

Those interested in signing up for the Imagination Library can go to their website for more information at www.imaginationlibrary.com.

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