MIDDLEBURG – Rosie giggled every time one of her classmates said hello as she stood in front of RideOut Elementary after school last Friday. The outpouring of affection and attention has become …
MIDDLEBURG – Rosie giggled every time one of her classmates said hello as she stood in front of RideOut Elementary after school last Friday. The outpouring of affection and attention has become part of her daily routine. Her gregarious attitude and infectious smile made the first-grader one of the most popular students at the school months ago. And if any students didn’t know her, that all changed on Dec. 1 when she appeared with Country legend Dolly Parton on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
The show unexpectedly reached out to Rosie’s family and asked to do a video interview. After the show recognized her expressive outlook, they invited her and her mother, Liz Williams, to Universal Studio, California to share their story about receiving Braille books as part of Parton’s Imagination Library.
Parton’s initiative to provide books has been so widespread, one in 10 children now receives a book from her program. Rosie, who suffered from septo-optic dysplasia that left her blind shortly after birth, is one of the children.
Since 1995, more than 200 million free books have been delivered to children every month.
“We began receiving Braille books from the Imagination Library. So our daughter was exposed to pre-Braille and Braille and that is so important. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but only about 10% of blind children have the opportunity to be Braille literate. She’s in the first grade at RideOut Elementary School in Clay County, Florida. She was reading braille and writing Braille before most children are reading or writing in print.”
As Clarkson wiped away tears, Parton appeared to be overcome by the moment.
“It makes it all worthwhile to hear those stories to think that a little child, the Imagination Library, we have that in Braille, you just do not know, I do not know, but thank God for that child and for you (Liz) for you coming here today to share that result. That makes me feel great and I know my Dad would be proud.”
Then Clarkson surprised Parton when Rosie walked onto the stage. From there, she stole the show.
Rosie got hugs from Clarkson and Parton and she quickly asked them to “sing me a song.” They picked “Amazing Grace.”
While they sang, Rose clutched Parton’s thumb. She responded by pulling Rosie’s hand to her cheek.
“I liked singing the most,” Rosie said. “I liked it. It felt good to sing.”
Then Rosie asked if she could sing a song, and she picked “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Rosie got a book a month from the program. Her favorite is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.”
Parton’s Imagination Library has been made available by the Clay Education Foundation in two zip codes – 32043 (Green Cove Springs) and 32073 (Orange Park, Bellair, Meadowbrook Terrace and Lakeside).
Parton’s charity recently got a $5,310 donation from the Orange Park Women’s Club.
Parents can sign up a child for free HERE.