Fostering Literacy: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

One key aspect of Sigma Tau Delta’s Mission Statement is serving society by fostering literacy. With over 880 active chapters in the Society, we have the potential to make an incredible impact upon international literacy efforts. Every academic year Sigma Tau Delta’s Student Leadership committee chooses a philanthropic project to spearhead across the Society. This year the Student Leaders are encouraging the entire English Honor Societies family—Sigma Tau Delta, The International English Honor Society; Sigma Kappa Delta, The English Honor Society for Two-Year Colleges; and National English Honor Society (NEHS) for High Schools—to participate in the Student Leadership International Project: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The project will help raise funds to provide books to enhance the literacy of children in low-income communities.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton Imagination LibraryThe Imagination Library fosters a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing one specially-selected book each month from birth to the child’s fifth birthday. According to David Dotson, the president of The Dollywood Foundation, “Dolly started the Imagination Library as a gift to the children in her home county [in East Tennessee]. We never dreamed this effort would now span several countries and will soon attain an incredible milestone—gifting books to 1 million children per month.” The Imagination Library’s 2015 Annual Report highlighted some of the program’s achievements during its 20th anniversary year:

  • 2 million books donated in 2015
  • 9 million books donated since 1995
  • A new book is gifted every 3 seconds
  • Over 915,000 children received a book in December

Imagination Library Fostering LiteracyThe program has expanded far beyond America and now operates in Canada, the U.K., and Australia, with additional efforts in Belize to discover the program’s potential effectiveness in emerging countries.

Fostering Literacy at the Chapter Level

This year Sigma Tau Delta has the opportunity to help the Imagination Library reach its goal. Join us as we aim to gift books to over 1 million children in need. Student Leadership challenges all chapters to sponsor ten children. That is only $250 to provide ten children with a year’s worth of books! Proceeds will be split among South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky—three states greatly in need of our help—along with the company that produces books in Braille. Chapters may bring their fundraising money to the Sigma Tau Delta 2017 International Convention in Louisville, KY, or mail it to the Central Office by June 1. All money raised will be presented to the Imagination Library in a single check. Please do not send money directly to the Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton Fostering LiteracyResources

How is your chapter planning to raise funds for the Imagination Library this year?

Timothy LeonardTimothy Leonard
Student Advisor, 2015-2017
Omega Zeta Chapter
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA



Samantha MillerSamantha Miller
Student Advisor, 2016-2018
Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

Banned Books: Symbols of Positive Ideological Shifts

As literature lovers, it is our instinctual response to regard Banned Books Week with a modicum of solemn reflection; a week when we think about the thousands of people unable to enrich their literary lives with profound works like Animal Farm, Lolita, and Harry Potter (my personal favorite). The loss of awareness is something all literary scholars dread and actively work to stave off. Emotionally, the idea of “banned books” hits upon a specific nerve found especially in those who deeply love the written word.

Read Banned Books While I recognize the need for pensive contemplation, I propose that English students, academics, and aficionados adopt a new emotional regard for the week. Instead of thinking about the losses and setbacks caused by banned or burned books, we should observe the celebration of shifts in human ideology and history. Many books are banned because they conflict with historically sensitive events. When we’re still learning how to deal with these ideological conflicts, the literature supporting controversial beliefs is often the first thing to be villainized.

Banned Books PersepolisFor example, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, is a memoir detailing the author’s experiences growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The critically acclaimed text has received accolades for its honest and visceral depiction of such a politically charged and controversial historical moment. However, Persepolis is one of the most contested books of the past decade. Many reasons for banning the text stemmed from anti-Islam relations following a post 9/11 ideological shift. The lifted ban on Persepolis signaled the merit of Satrapi’s text and was indicative of the tensions between America and Iran at the time. In this case, and many others like it, literature and book-banning history reflected the tumultuous issues occurring in contemporary society.

Instead of looking at Banned Books Week as a solemn affair, let’s regard it as a symbolic indicator of human progress and achievement. If that doesn’t seem sufficient enough reason to celebrate, Banned Books Week exemplifies the dynamic power of literature as a touchstone for humanity.

Banned Books Persepolis comicSo celebrate by reading a recently challenged book, or just read Harry Potter again as I am doing.

Banned Books Week Social Media Contest

In celebration of Banned Books Week Sigma Tau Delta and National English Honor Society are teaming up to host a contest across our combined social media accounts. We want to hear about your favorite banned book! To participate you must tag us in a post about your favorite banned book on any of the following social media accounts:

In need of some inspiration for your post? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share a photo of your favorite banned book on Instagram
  • Share your favorite quote from a banned book on Twitter
  • Share your rationale against banning books, or banning a particular book, on Facebook
  • Send us a Snap talking about your favorite Banned Book

The contest will run from Sunday, September 25-Saturday, October 1. Everyone who participates during this time frame will be entered in a drawing to win one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. A $45 Amazon gift card also will be awarded to the best overall post. You may post to multiple accounts to improve your odds of winning, but please tell us about a different book in each post!

Banned Books Haley HelgesenHaley Helgesen
Student Representative, Midwestern Region, 2016-2017
Phi Delta Chapter
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

AuthorSHIP Project Grant: Encouraging Young Minds to Write!

AuthorSHIP Project Grant Chapter Members

AuthorSHIP Project Grant Chapter Members

Phi Psi, Shippensburg University‘s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, was the 2015-2016 Sigma Tau Delta Project Grant recipient for their AuthorSHIP Project Grant contest, a Central Pennsylvania competition that encourages young writers in multiple writing styles. The three categories include poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. A first and second place winner is selected from each category in both the high school and middle school division, resulting in a total of twelve awards.

AuthorSHIP Project Grant

In the first week of December 2015 notification of the contest was sent via email, and flyers were sent to nearly fifty middle school and high school teachers. Information about the AuthorSHIP contest was sent to twenty school districts within a sixty-mile radius of Shippensburg University. We accepted submissions online until March 31, 2016, and received 174 manuscripts across the three categories—the highest entry rate so far!

The guidelines for the AuthorSHIP contest are fairly flexible: there is no length requirement and students may submit as many pieces of writing to as many categories as they wish. We encouraged students to proofread and edit their submissions before submitting final drafts. The students could submit pieces they wrote for a specific class, such as research papers, or individual pieces they specifically created for this contest or have been working on previously. No matter how new or old their piece was, it could be submitted as long as they personally wrote the piece.

The students submitted their writing to an online database that every member of the Phi Psi chapter could access. Members were split into three groups and each group was assigned an award category (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) to judge. After reading the submissions multiple times, the members held a meeting to make the final decisions. As difficult as it was to agree on the winners, the final entries were picked via majority vote.

AuthorSHIP Project Grant Winners

AuthorSHIP Contest Winners

AuthorSHIP Winners

Picking the awarded entries was challenging for the members because of the level of creativity and emotion used by the students. The students’ writing made members laugh, cry, and reflect. Some of the common themes were science fiction, mystery, dystopian worlds, personal narratives, and poetry about nature. Gender and social stereotypes were explored in many of the selected winners’ works. It was inspiring to read these emotionally charged stories written by young minds.

AuthorSHIP Project Grant Anthology

AuthorSHIP Anthology

An anthology of winning submissions for the AuthorSHIP Project Grant was compiled by the Writing Contest Subcommittee to distribute to winners, and an awards ceremony was held in April to publicly recognize the winners. Many members of the Phi Psi chapter attended the ceremony, along with the winners and their teachers and family members. Everyone was excited to meet each other and congratulate the writers. The AuthorSHIP contest encourages young people to write and even if their work is not selected in the current year, they are encouraged to submit pieces the following year!

Sigma Tau Delta Project Grants

Sigma Tau Delta’s Project Grants are designed to encourage local chapters to be innovative in developing projects that further the goals of the Society. The Society will award a limited number of grants, for no more than $500 each, to support local chapter activities. Funds may be requested for separate projects or for parts of larger projects, and chapters should explore ways to use Project Grants in combination with funds secured from other sources. Funds may be requested for ongoing projects, but there is no guarantee that projects funded during one grant period will receive funding in future grant periods.

Winning chapters may also receive up to $350 in travel assistance for sending at least one student representative to the annual convention to participate in a workshop and/or roundtable. Winning chapters are encouraged to share a chapter exhibit at the convention.

Applications must be complete and received by November 1. No late submissions will be accepted. Award winners will be notified by November 15, with one-half of the awarded funds available immediately; the other half when a final project report is filed.

Sigma Tau Delta Project Grant Resources

2014-2015 Project Grant Reports

Authorship Project Grant MDiehlMaria Diehl
2015-2016 Project Grant Recipient
Phi Psi Chapter, President
Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA