Cadiz, Ohio (WTRF) – Whether it’s Cat in the Hat or Pete the Cat, the power of rhyming words and colorful pictures on kids can’t be overstated.

Picture books form some of our most powerful family memories, not to mention the building blocks to understand more complex concepts in the future.

It was with knowledge of that power that the Imagination Library spread across Ohio, with help from First Lady Fran DeWine and her grandkids.

I was with them one day and the mail came, and they got their books and they ripped off that plastic wrapper, the book was addressed to them, and it was a ‘read to me, read to me grandma’ moment.

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

Started by Dolly Parton in Tennessee, the program sends a book a month to children from the time they’re born up until they turn five.

DeWine came to Puskarich Library in Cadiz to read two of those books to an attentive audience of preschoolers, to help get them ready for their first time in a classroom.

We know their brains are 80 percent developed by the time they’re 3 years old, so we
don’t want to waste any of that time.

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

She says prior to her husband becoming governor, it was only available in small pockets of the Buckeye State.

Now the library is open to every county, and all of their young ones are eligible completely free.

As you might imagine, that’s music to the ears of teachers and librarians.

They are coming into kindergarten with a whole library at their feet. They’re already getting all of those books, and all of the different perspectives and whatnot of the world, and early literacy is super important.

Karli Ray, Children’s librarian at Puskarich Library

So where do you start with a very young child?

One mother in attendance says the best jumping-off point for books is Dr. Seuss, and from there your child will tell you what he or she wants to read about.

I have a kid that loves sharks, so we read all shark books. I have another kid that
loves dinosaurs, all the dinosaur books.

Kristen Willis, Mother

It’s a long road to get there, but for most of us, the trip to the top of the educational ladder
starts with a story about a bunny and some cabbage.