Dolly Parton has arrived in California … sort of.
The country music legend and philanthropist has made Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available across California.
The service delivers free, age-appropriate books every month to children from birth to age 5, regardless of a family’s income.
The California State Library has started the process of making the program available to every child in California. The Imagination Library of California is already available in over 40 locations, including to every child in 30 counties.
The Dollywood Foundation and the state library are utilizing local partners to cover specific geographical locations, and the program is looking for new nonprofit local partners.
Parents can check a map to see if the Imagination Library is available in their area. Select the “Join the Imagination Library button.” If it is currently not available in their area, they can enter their contact information to receive notification when the program is available.
Coming soon to a county near you
The goal is to have the Imagination Library available to children in all 58 California counties by 2028.
“Early readers grow into strong readers. Strong readers are more likely to succeed in school and to succeed in life. The Imagination Library makes that happen for every kid under five,” California State Librarian Greg Lucas said in a statement. “This is the kind of challenge we like at the State Library — working with local partners to put as many books as we can into the hands of as many kids as we can.”
“Early readers grow into strong readers. Strong readers are more likely to succeed in school and to succeed in life. The Imagination Library makes that happen for every kid under five.”Greg Lucas, California state librarian
The program’s expansion was driven by bipartisan legislation signed last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under the bill — authored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield — the State Library provides a dollar-for-dollar match to help local organizations that partner with the Imagination Library to sign up more kids to receive books.
The Imagination Library is now making every book available in English and Spanish. Families can select which language they would prefer to receive email communications.
50 states and beyond
The Imagination Library started in 1995 when Dolly Parton began gifting books to kids in the Tennessee county where she was raised. The program now exists in all 50 states and five countries.
More than 40 existing local partners have already registered over 35,000 children to receive free books in California. Local partners, who must include a non-profit, provide funding, which the state now will match, promote the program in their communities and sign up participants.
All books in the Imagination Library are selected by a panel of experts in early childhood and reading. Each book is age-appropriate, and the list features a diverse range of titles, authors, and genres.