In 1995, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision 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. Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.
“Through the Murray Lions KidSight program, the Murray Lions screen over 1,600 pre-K and Head Start children each year. The gift of reading is a natural by-product of our vision program and the target audience for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library mirrors our pre-K screening demographic perfectly” said Murray Lions president, Paul McCreary. “Through the Murray Lions flagship vision screening program, we feel the Lions can bring greater awareness to our Dolly Parton Imagination Library program” stated Gerald Washington, Executive Director of the United Way of Murray-Calloway County.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to over 80,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom! Currently over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to over 1,000,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and independent reports have shown Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library drastically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved scores during early literacy testing.
The targeted audience for the joint partnership includes more than 200 children from 3 months to 5 years old in approximately a dozen daycare centers and head start programs throughout Calloway County for the remaining school year.