Though she’s best known as a singer and songwriter, there isn’t a whole lot Dolly Parton hasn’t done. The nine-time Grammy Award-winning musician is also a businesswoman, author, actress, and tireless humanitarian. Most of Parton’s efforts are focused on education, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to achieve academic success.
Like most of us, Dolly Parton firmly believes that a parent’s financial status shouldn’t impact a child’s ability to succeed in school. But unlike most of us, Dolly Parton has the resources to help. Initially called the Dollywood Foundation, Parton established a foundation to help ensure that children had access to books. The Dollywood Foundation changed its name to the Imagination Library in 1995 but maintained its mission.
The Imagination Library aims to supply kids with books each month from birth until age 5, completely free of charge. While the program initially ran only in Sevier County, Tennessee, it’s since become a global phenomenon. According to the Imagination Library’s website, the foundation celebrated its 150 millionth donated book in 2020.
Though the program currently runs in 22 cities in the state of Colorado, Dolly Parton recently joined Gov. Jared Polis to announce the program’s expansion. Ultimately, Gov. Polis plans to expand the Imagination Library to all 64 counties in Colorado with the help of community partners.
With Parton’s program, kids under the age of 5 receive age-appropriate books on a variety of topics. Introducing books early in life sets kids up for a lifetime of enjoying them, and it also helps kids reach reading milestones. With Colorado’s expansion of the Imagination Library, children in high-poverty areas will benefit from more access to books than ever before.
“We’ve still got some work to do in Colorado, but we’re gonna get there,” Parton explained. “Let’s put some wings on and get more books in the hands of children.”