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In August, 2017, the number of books that we have delivered through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program will exceed 70,000.
In 1996, Dolly Parton saw the need for the children in her own county in East Tennessee to experience the magic reading can create. As a result of the success of this program and the following one in North Carolina, where the Dollywood Foundation is located, Dolly Parton expanded the program nation-wide. The foundation has established the program’s structure, which provides a selection of high quality children’s literature and the structure of a database. In turn each community is responsible for raising the funds to purchase and ship the books, as well as maintaining their own database.
Since the beginning of the program in February 2008, 2,088 children in Dearborn County have received free books, with 302 continuing to receive them in June. By switching to high quality paperback books, the Dollywood Foundation has reduced production and shipping costs. Though we have enrolled as many as 920 children in the past, we currently have limited enrollment to 300 each month.
It may be surprising to you to learn that communities plan the size of their jail by looking at the number of student in the school who are not reading at grade-level by third grade. Because of the Imagination Library and the generous support of the Library Foundations, the number of children not reading at grade-level will continue to decrease.