When people ask me what I love most about Dolly and what she’s done for her hometown, they are sometimes surprised by my answer. While Dollywood is at the top of everyone’s list for fun, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is one that definitely shines for children and their parents… especially my family.
I registered both of my girls for the Imagination Library as soon as they were born. That means that they each got one book every month until they turned 5! Yes, those 60 books [120 between the both of them] contributed to our growing library of children’s books. The quality of the books are impeccable, too. You can tell that there has been so much thought put into the books that are a part of the program. For example, each child receives “The Little Engine That Could” as their first book, which really shares the sentiment of the entire program. Dolly explains the reason she chose this book to be every child’s first in the program is because she always had a dream of going to Nashville and becoming a successful singer/songwriter; her dream came true because she always believed in herself, and she wants all children to do the same!
Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library 20 years ago in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. With her own meager upbringing in mind, she wanted to create a program to help all families build their children a library of quality books. Since its creation, the Imagination Library has now mailed more than 87 million, yes million, books to children around the world! That’s right—this program has expanded even outside of the United States and now has more than 1 million children enrolled.
I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always enjoyed reading to my girls, which has instilled a love of reading for them as well. That, along with the fact that they got a special gift in the mail with their name on it, made the day that they’re “Dolly book” arrived in the mailbox the best day of the month. It probably also has to do with the fact that I always told my girls that the books were coming straight from Dolly herself. Because of our many conversations and, of course, visits to Dollywood, they both know Dolly very well. The fact that they think Dolly sends them a book through the mail every month, with their name on it, means so much to them.
So much in fact that when my youngest daughter received her last book on her 5th birthday this year, I thought she would burst from the excitement that, “Dolly sent me a birthday present!!!!” We’ve been talking about her upcoming adventure of going to Kindergarten this fall and it’s always been met with apprehension until this book showed up with the special note from Dolly about how exciting school will be!
As a parent, it’s wonderful to see your children so excited about learning and reading. It’s also quite exciting to see my girls have a love for Dolly that matches their mama’s! I’m continually amazed at how she gives back and the amazing work she does for our community, our children, and our world.
If you have children younger than 5 years old, be sure to register them in the Imagination Library. Please keep in mind that although the program is in all 50 states, it is not in every community. See the information below about how Imagination Library works and how you can get involved.
If you are in an eligible community, your kids will get excited about getting “books from Dolly” in their mailbox, too!