Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - Governor John Bel Edwards announced this week that Dolly Parton's Imagination Library book gifting program is expanding statewide. The program is designed to inspire a love of reading by providing access to free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to children between the ages of 0 and 5 years old.

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Dolly's program was inspired by her father's inability to read and write. She launched the Imagination Library in 1995 in her home county of Sevier in Tennessee. Today, the program is active in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland, and sends over 2-million books each month to children around the world.

The country music icon wanted to foster a love a reading that she believed would provide a launching pad for a successful, happy life. She said:

When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.

Experts writing for share that reading to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers:

  1. Encourages child-parent bonding.
  2. Improves a child's listening skills and attention span.
  3. Promotes cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
  4. Expands a child's vocabulary.
  5. Sparks creativity.

The United Way of Acadiana has been investing $2,000 per month to provide books to 5,000 children in Acadia, Lafayette, Iberia, St. Martin, and Vermilion Parishes as part of their mission to increase on-time graduation rates.

Currently, Louisiana has 32 Imagination Library programs covering portions of 30 parishes in the state, with nearly 19,000 eligible children receiving books each month. The goal of the statewide expansion is to make books available to children ages 0-5 in every parish in the state.

Governor Edwards invited organizations to join in the effort:

I’m thrilled to be launching Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library statewide, and I want to encourage all those organizations that are eligible to join us and become local program partners. Together, we can ensure that every child in Louisiana has access to free, high-quality books.


Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Louisiana will:

  • Focus on reaching more children and families in existing Imagination Library Programs in the state.
  • Support existing Local Program Partners in their efforts to grow and sustain.
  • Find community partners to start new Imagination Library programs in Louisiana.

The expanded program is available free of charge to all families in Louisiana, made possible by Dolly and local community partners. To enroll, visit Expansion information will be updated at the site as it is available.


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