All Onondaga County Kids Under 5 Now Eligible for Free Book Program

Mar 2, 2016

County Executive of Onondaga County Joanie Mahoney reads to children in celebration of "Read Across America Day."
Credit Matt Gutierrez / WAER

  Wearing their red and white-striped Dr. Seuss hats, one dozen children sat in a circle and listened to a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Are You My Mother?” today.  They sat on the front steps of a replica City Hall inside WCNY’s Education Center in observance of “Read Across America Day.”

"I must get something for my baby bird to eat, she said. I'll be back," County Executive Joanie Mahoney read to the group of children.  

And the kids from the Salvation Army day program seemed to have enjoyed the story. The group of children cheered "thank you" to the adults while exiting. 

Minutes before, Mahoney delivered the day’s big news for the “Imagination Library.”  The county program sends children a free book each month until their fifth birthday.  In 2010, only two zip codes in the County were eligible.  The program has now expanded to serve the entire county. 

Virginia Carmody, the Executive Director of the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County, says the Coalition is excited to offer the program to students who need the service in all parts of the County.

"As I said, as children enter not ready for school, they struggle, they fail, and there's all the costs that their families and our communities cannot afford. This is getting them a leg up and helping them to be ready for kindergarten," Carmody said. 

Even in today’s digital world, Mahoney still believes in the effect a traditional book can have on kids.

"The effect when you sit down and read a book to kids is unlike any other: in feeling the book, in walking around, in having ownership of that book. It is probably a question for the education experts, but I can tell you from both a mother's standpoint and as somebody that gets to go into schools and read to kids that there is something about a book that can change kids' lives," Mahoney said. 

Since the launch of the “Imagination’s Library” in 2010,more than 8,000 students have enrolled.  To sign your kids up, visit