Dolly Parton Is Giving Free Books to Kids — Here’s How You Can Participate

published Oct 20, 2022
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National treasure Dolly Parton frequently uses her platform for good, and that includes her decades-long commitment to ensuring that kids have access to books. Parton has been helping connect kids with books since 1995 when she launched her Imagination Library initiative, which recently expanded to include California, marking its 16th state nationwide.

The music icon started Imagination Library back in the mid-’90s, inspired by her late father, Lee Parton, who was unable to read. She began the program in her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee, offering up one free book a month to any child in participating areas through their fifth birthday. The initiative has since gifted more than 188 million books to children in 16 U.S. states, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.

California governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law bill SB 1183, which will provide funding for Imagination Library for kids in the state from birth until the age of five at no cost to their families. The program will launch in June 2023 in the state, but residents in states including Oklahoma, Delaware, Washington, Arkansas, and more are already eligible to apply for free books for their little ones.

Interested parents and caregivers can check the availability page to see if the program is available in their state and apply online if so. The country crooner hopes to inspire a love of reading as well as help spark imagination for kids to achieve their dreams, no matter what they may be. If the program isn’t yet available in your area, you can learn how to become an Imagination Library Local Champion and help kickstart a local program near you. Each Imagination Library receives funding through Parton, as well as local governments and organizations, relying on the work of volunteers to help carry out the mission and get books into the hands of the youngest bookworms out there.