NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 13: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Dolly Parton speaks onstage during the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images,)

Entertainment legend Dolly Parton launched her Imagination Library in 1995. She started early childhood book-gifting program so that every preschool child in her home of Sevier County, Tennessee, would have their library of books to encourage reading and learning. After the success of the program, Dolly decided to offer her Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for replication in any community that would support it.

Dolly recognized the benefit of reading and books from an early age. As a young child, she watched her father struggle to read and write as he worked tirelessly to pull his family out of poverty. This inspired Dolly to create a program where all children could access this simple gift regardless of their family’s income. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library now serves children in more than 2,000 communities around the world including some in Mecklenburg County.

The program first came to the area in 2015 in partnership with SmartStart and provided books for newborn children in the 28205 zip code. That year it quickly expanded to also include 28206 and 28202. Families are enrolled in the program through partnerships with Atrium Health and Novant Heath birth registars. By 2015 Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was available to provide books for any children from birth to five in Mecklenburg County. This year they celebrate their 5 year anniversary.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a voluntary program. Parents can sign up to receive a new book each month through the Imagination Library at no cost.

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