“Dolly Parton believes that if you can read, you can do anything, dream anything, and be anything” (Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, 2017). Now, thanks to the collaboration of local organizations and a grant from the Community Foundation of Clinton County and Center Township, our children have the opportunity to build their own libraries!
The free program is available for all Clinton County children ages birth to 5 years. Each registered child receives, monthly, a free age-appropriate book selected by early childhood experts and personalized with their own name. Books are mailed directly to the child’s home and are available to all regardless of the family’s income. According to the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, “Reading aloud to children at a young age can positively impact their brain development: When preschool children listen to stories, it activates the areas of their brains that are associated with processing images and narrative comprehension” (Duursma and Augustyn, 2008). Further, an increased frequency to quality print materials is a determining factor in the potential for children to become fluent readers and writers (Justice and Sofka, 2010). The goal of this program is to provide access to literature for all our young people and to encourage families to spend time reading together.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was established in 1995, and since its inception 1,847,613 children have registered with a total of 165,176,249 books gifted as of August 2021. Parton established the program in honor of her father, who could not read or write, and it is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading in all children. According to research shared on the Imagination Library website, “60% of the kindergarteners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book”. The Imagination Library is supported by local funders and partners to help children become book owners.
The arrival of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Clinton County, which is available now, is made possible a collaboration of five local organizations: Frankfort Community Public Library, Frankfort Community Schools, The Learning Network of Clinton County, Purdue Extension, and St. Matthew Preschool. Recognizing the need to put more books in the homes of our youth, teams from these agencies brainstormed a way to make it possible. Now, with a help of grants from the Community Foundation of Clinton County and Center Township, we are able to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to our homes. Caregivers may begin enrolling their children immediately at any of the partnering locations.
“Funding for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is ongoing. While we have gotten it started, we need help to make sure it continues. We hope to eventually have enough funding to form an endowment that will perpetually fund the program for the children of Clinton County. If you would like more information about contributing to this legacy of reading, you can contact Jen Casey at the Frankfort Community Public Library; you can speak to any of the other community partners; or simply go online to donate directly to the program