Building imagination

Published 12:02 am Friday, January 14, 2011

Brody Furr, cradled by mother Karen Cowart and loved immensely by sister Bailee, will be the first child to receive a book through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Covington County project. Here, Curtis Simpson and Susan Short sign up the family Thursday. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

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The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Covington County project is officially under way as the first newborn was enrolled in the program Thursday.

Brody Wayne Furr, the son of Karen Cowart, will be the first child in Covington County to receive a new book every month until the age of 5. His first title – “The Little Engine That Could” – will soon be on its way.

Now, each child born in Covington County beginning Jan. 1, 2011, is eligible for the program.

Curtis Simpson began organizing the program last spring, working to raise the funds needed to get things up and running.

“We’ve collected what we need to get us through the first year,” Simpson said. “What we really need is to collect $65,000, which would get us funded for the first five years. Anything we raise over that would help expand the program to include other children.”

Parton’s Imagination Library was launched in 1996 for preschoolers in Sevier County, Tenn., as a gift of encouragement for the children of her Smoky Mountain homeland. It is designed to promote child literacy and will ensure that children have a library collection of 60 books by the age 5. The books are addressed to the child and delivered via the U.S. Postal Service.

Cost of the program is $2.33 per child per month.

Thursday, Cowart filled out the brief registration form that will be distributed to all new mothers delivering at Andalusia Regional Hospital.

“This is such a great program,” Cowart said. “My daughter Bailee, who’s 3, has to have a story at night before she goes to bed. I’m sure Brody’s going to be the same way.”

Those who have delivered newborns at ARH since Jan. 1, and who have not filled out a registration form, are asked to pick one up at Harold’s Discount Furniture or at the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College child development center.

Those wishing to make a donation to the program should contact Simpson at 427-9907 or 488-4303 or by e-mail at

“If we can raise money over that $65,000, that extra money would allow us to include other children – say preschool aged,” he said. “Right now, we don’t want to overextend ourselves by trying to do too much, but I think, with the community’s help, we can make this a successful program.”