Dolly Parton and her ‘Imagination Library’ has come to California, with a new bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Singer Dolly Parton was inspired by her father’s struggles with illiteracy to make sure as many children as possible learn to read, and she has made a tremendous impact. Her Imagination Library program solicits publishers, school districts, book distributors, or other donors to provide books to be sent for free to the homes of young children. In some states, it’s as much as a book every month, from birth to five years old.
Since its inception in Tennessee in 1995, the Imagination Library has provided over 170 million books to children in 14 U.S. states, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Australia. It is credited with encouraging literacy and love of learning in young children who might not otherwise have a bookshelf of their own growing up.
California’s new bill, SB 1183, provides funding to support Dolly Parton’s legacy at the state level. Beginning in June 2023, every child in California, ages 0-5, will be eligible to have one free, age-appropriate book per month mailed to their home.
An estimated 2.4 million children will be eligible to participate in California’s program at its launch. And for the first time, the Imagination Library will have bilingual options available. “Growing up with very little money in southwest Virginia, my parents taught me that books were my ticket to see the world,” said Sen. Toni Atkins, co-author of the bill. “A deep love of reading and learning is the greatest gift they ever gave me — it is so special to be able to pass that on to children across California. And, to be able to do so in partnership with my friend, Senator Grove, and my country music idol, Dolly Parton, is just icing on the cake.”