ST JOSEPH -- A St. Joseph family had a story book ending yesterday (Thursday) after receiving a special gift.

It's always hard to put a good book down. United Way of Central Minnesota Imagination Library has been putting books in the hands of kids in the area since 2005.

"We just deliver books completely free to parents in our area who have children 5-years-old and younger," says Marketing and Communications Manager Jessica Johnson.

The Imagination Library is celebrating its 10th birthday and this month delivered its 1-millionth book.

"If kids are reading at an early age they're better off in school in the long run, better off in the their life and have more opportunities," says Johnson.

Cole and Chantel Hawkins have been getting books for their daughters through the Imagination Library for the last few years, and saying their girls like books is an understatement.

"Oh yes they love books," says Chantel. "It gives us something new to read each month just to surprise the girls," says Cole.

United Ways is the 13th largest of the 1,400 Imagination Library affiliates and Johnson says helping a child read is a great reward.

"The parents just told us that they read more with their kids and it's such a great feeling," says Johnson.

Last year more than 10,000 local kids received Imagination Library books.


Chantel and Cole Hawkins (and their daughters) enjoy the 1 millionth book delivered from the Imagination Library. (Photo: Dan DeBaun)