Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

In 1996, the famous Dolly Parton took a dream and turned it into a reality. She launched her Imagination Library for the children in her low-income community of Tennessee, after seeing her friends and relatives struggle to read. She saw how reading difficulties continued to negatively impact people throughout their lives. Currently the Imagination Library is in 48 states, the UK and Canada representing over 700,000 eligible children. Dolly Parton is truly the reality of what ONE person can do to empower others.

The concept of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program is to get books into the hands of children to improve literacy. The only requirement is that the child be within age range and live in an approved area. If those requirements are met, a new book is mailed to each eligible child every month from when they are born until their 5th birthday. I feel so strongly about this program and how valuable it is for families to register to increase parent involvement and child literacy through the gift of reading. I was accepted to speak at the 2012 Parent Involvement and Technology Conference held in Fargo late April. Many attendees raised their hand when I asked who has not yet heard about the Imagination Library. Although this program has hit the international level, there are many individuals, even within my community, who are unaware of this amazing opportunity! As Mrs. North Dakota International, I am thrilled to volunteer for the program to bring more awareness and hopefully encourage more parent involvement. 

As soon as the month of May was here I was more eager than ever to volunteer for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. It sure didn’t take long. That first day of May I was able to help the wonderful United Way members and First Lady Betsy Dalrymple deliver May Day baskets filled with the Imagination Library books to daycares around the community. Since 2003, when the Cass/Clay Counties launched their own Imagination Library, they have given out over 750,000 books!!! What a monumental accomplishment and to think that there are many families that have not yet heard about this program encourages me even more to promote my platform.

Two days later I was asked to be a special guest at the RED Event in Grand Forks. The purpose of this event was to bring more awareness of the importance of reading and to kick off the Imagination Library within their community. There were over 350 in attendance for the event, approximately 180 families who pre-registered and a total of 144 children registered to reap the wonderful benefits of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library!

It was a very successful and rewarding couple of days. I was honored to be a part of both events and to help bring more awareness of the program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an valuable program that every child should have access to and a great opportunity for parents to spend time with and read to their kids. By inspiring parents to read to their children we can help them: dream more, learn more, care more, and be more!

Ashley Voigt
Mrs. North Dakota International 2012

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