The Partnership Furthers Dolly’s Dream to Take Her Reading Program Nationwide
PIGEON FORGE, TN – What began as a dream is becoming a reality for the Country Music Icon now known to her littlest fans as “the book lady.”
Little more than two years ago, Dolly Parton told the assembled Washington Press Corps that she intended to take her Imagination Library program from its humble beginnings in Sevier County, Tennessee across the country. In that time, Dolly has expanded her Library to serve 183 communities in 25 states. At a media event, December 13th at her Dollywood Theme Park, changed the scope of her Imagination Library program to include, for the first time, the Federal Government. The program is sponsored locally by businesses, United Ways, education foundations, school systems and local government.
The partnership with the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Parents as Teachers, and the National center for Family Literacy called FACE and Baby FACE, allows Dolly’s Imagination Library program to be adopted by 92 Indian Communities from Mississippi to Washington and from Arizona to South Dakota, with an opportunity for expansion.
“You know, I feel my Imagination Library is now truly a national gift. We are up to almost 200 community programs in half the states, we have the federal government involved, and even a whole state is attempting to provide books to every single child,” Dolly said. “But you know I feel the same today as I did when we enrolled the first child in Sevier County – I feel blessed to be in a position to help any child to learn to read, and probably more importantly to love to read!”
The State of Tennessee’s new Governor, Phil Bredeson, also has promised to take Dolly’s Imagination Library program state wide, to serve any child who wishes to become a part of the Library.
Attending the event was Neal McCaleb, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs of the Department of Interior. Mr. McCaleb noted the success of the Department’s emphasis on the preschool population but said “We knew we were missing one important ingredient in order to complete the circle. By enriching our efforts with the gift of Dolly’s books, we can teach and inspire parents to read to their children.”
Also attending the announcement were Sue Stepleton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Parents as Teachers National Center, and Sharon Darling, the President and Founder of the National Center for Family Literacy, partners in the FACE literacy program. “The Imagination Library program is an incredible opportunity for all of us to help children and their parents develop a love of reading books together. The program’s emphasis on literacy development in children from birth to age five is integral to developing lifelong literacy skills and a love for learning,” said Darling.
The Dollywood Foundation and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program were founded in Dolly’s home community of Sevier County, Tennessee. The program is open to any child regardless of economic circumstance in the participating communities. It provides a book a month from the time a child is born until they turn age five.
For more information or to introduce Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library into your community: Contact David Dotson, Executive Director of the Dollywood Foundation, (865) 428-9606. For more information about Dollywood or Dolly Parton’s other Entertainment Enterprises contact Pete Owens, Public Relations Manager for the Dollywood Companies, (865) 428-9486.