Emma McIntyre/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Getty Images
Dolly Parton pictured in Los Angeles in November 2022.
Thanks to California’s expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, every child in California under the age of five is now eligible to receive a free book in the mail each month.
The newly expanded book donation program provides California with the most extensive Imagination Library in the nation and will be the first state to offer bilingual book options in English and Spanish.
Legendary award-winning country music artist, actress and icon, Parton founded Imagination Library in 1995 with a vision to foster a love of reading.
“Today is a great milestone for children and families across the state!” Parton said in a press release sent Tuesday from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
“Dolly Parton has brought us together through music and her commitment to helping all children develop a love of reading,” Newsom said.
Newsom said the expansion, which will be completed within the next five years, will reach more than 2.4 million children in the program and “open the minds of millions of young people to a world of limitless possibilities.”
Parton, self-proclaimed book ladystarted the Imagination Library in honor of his father.
“He was illiterate and very smart so that was a big hindrance. It really bothered him a lot,” Parton told CNN in a 2019 interview.
According to the organization’s website, the program aims to provide specially selected books to preschool children and their families, regardless of their financial background.
Since the initiative began, the Imagination Library has donated over 200 million books to 50 states.
California State Librarian Director Greg Lucas said in a press release Tuesday that he believes readers are “more likely to be successful academically and in life,” and that the Imagination Library’s efforts are “the kind of things we like at the State Library.” It’s a challenge of sorts,” he added. We want to work with local partners to get as many books as possible into the hands of as many children as possible. ”
“We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a lifelong love of reading in children across California,” Parton said.