Ohio first lady Fran DeWine reads aloud.

NEW PHILADELPHIA - Ohio’s first lady is kicking off a program to boost local childhood literacy.  Fran DeWine visited the Tuscarawas County Public Library in New Philadelphia Monday to announce the launch of the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. Children from birth through age five in the county will be eligible to receive one free book a month mailed, starting in March, DeWine says.   


“This is really exciting for me. I was here several months ago, and we talked about getting it started; and now, to see the whole community come together and ready to sign up so quickly is very exciting. . .  I think it’s important for children to have books in their homes from a very early age.”


United Way of Tuscarawas County president Robin Waltz says the program’s estimated cost is roughly $25,00 a year.  The Governor’s Office is paying for half. The Dover, New Philadelphia and Dennison rotaries, the Tuscarawas County Community Foundation, Dover Hydraulics, and Eric Kimble are paying for the local share, says Waltz.  


“We’re very blessed to have such a generous community that continues to help other non-profits as well as United Way with all the different programs we have. . . The program really just sold itself. We’ve had very little difficulty getting people to participate.”                       


Waltz says 276 local children are already enrolled in the program, with DeWine adding she expects close to join by April.  The United Way is responsible for ordering and shipping the books.  


Those interested can sign up online at