Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

This star-spangled songstress is an icon of down-home Americana.

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

Hello, Dolly!

While you know her signature style and warbling voice, though, you may not know that Dolly Parton is a longtime champion of children’s literacy.

In 1995, Dolly founded Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in her childhood stompin’ grounds of Sevier County in rural eastern Tennessee. Her goal, inspired by her father’s “crippling” inability to read or write, was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month.

“By mailing high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create,” explains the Library’s website. “Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.”

By the year 2000, the program became so popular that it was extended to any community willing to partner with the Dollywood Foundation, and now it helps distribute millions of books throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

All children, up to age 5, are eligible to enroll in their local Imagination Library program. Once a month, from birth to age 5, the program mails a book directly to their home in hopes of inspiring a lifelong love of reading. According to the website, statistics and independent reports show drastically improved early childhood literacy for kids enrolled in the program.

To find out if there is an Imagination Library in your community or to start one (with lots of help and guidance from Dolly’s program), visit

P.S. PBS featured Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2013. Take a look: