Kara McLaughlin, 5, laughs as she and her sister Kailey, 7 months, spend time with the books they received from the Dolly Parton Imaginary Library Friday afternoon, January 20, 2012 in Middletown. Children in the area who have received books from the program scored higher on tests than other students. Contributed photo by Jessica Uttinger
Photo: Uttinger
Photo: Uttinger

Your child could get a free book every month thanks to Dolly Parton

It sounds too good to be true — but then again, it is Dolly. 

In 1995, the country queen launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee. The program mails free books each month to children in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. 

Today, almost 113 million books have been mailed for free to kids age five and younger, including children in the Dayton area. The books are even age appropriate. When you register your child and enter their age, the books will progress and advance as reading skills progress. 

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“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true,” Parton said. “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.”

Dayton resident, Mia Szente, is read her first Imagination Library book.
Photo: Erica Szente

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There are multiple participating counties in the Dayton area including Miami County, Greene County and others. If you would like to register your child, all you have to do is check the availability of the program in your county by visiting Imagination Library’s website.

James Huff, 13, reads with his sister, Jenna Huff, 4, in their Cleveland Heights home. The family participates in the Imagination Library, a program started by Dolly Parton that sends free books to preschoolers. GUS CHAN/THE (CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER
Photo: HANDOUT

“At this point, there’s nothing my little girl gets more excited about than books,” said Erica Szente, a Dayton-area mother. “Mia is almost two years old now and she starts jumping when I tell her this month’s book has come. They’re always brand new books that fit my daughter’s interest level.”

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Some Dayton-area counties, including much of Montgomery, are currently not enrolled in the program. However, according to Imagination Library, the program is willing to come to any community

Sara Flynn reads a book from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to her son Theo, 2, Wednesday, Nov. 4 at her home in Middletown. Flynn says she reads daily to her son and has been receiving books through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program since Theo was six months old. The program is an early childhood literacy program that provides one free, age-appropriate, expert-selected book every month to any child birth to age 5 living within the borders of the Edgewood, Franklin, Madison, Monroe, Trenton, and Middletown School Districts. The books are a gift to all of our community's children who sign up for the program thanks to the financial support of the Middletown Community Foundation. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Nick Graham

“There is simply no limit on how far we can take this program and to what ends of the earth, but it is an absolute impossibility without your help,” according to Imagination Library’s website. “If your community or a community that you are aware of doesn’t yet offer this proven early childhood literacy program, then we challenge you to Get Involved! It’s actually quite easy to bring the Imagination Library to life in your community and we have an onslaught of available resources to help you Start A Program including a personal trainer which we like to call “Regional Director”! So come on, you can do it, follow this link to get a simple checklist of what you need to do to Get Onboard Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.”

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