Imagination Library is a nonprofit founded by Dolly Parton in 1995, with the goal of giving free books to children. It began in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was raised by a father who could not read. In its early stages, the organization sent one free book a month to every child registered from birth until kindergarten. Five years later, it had rolled out nationwide, and by 2003 they had mailed their millionth book. As of 2013, Imagination Library sends out books to over 1.2 million kids in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.
“I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my daddy,” Parton said in a letter published on the library’s website. “He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
On February 27th, 2018, Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book, a massive milestone. At an event held at the Library of Congress, she read her own children’s book, Coat of Many Colors, to an audience. The reading is part of her new collaboration with the Library of Congress, in which children’s books will be read aloud by their authors and shared with libraries and viewers around the country via the internet.
Imagination Library is fueled by partnerships with companies that donate the books and shipping resources needed to make Parton’s dreams come true. Other key sponsors include Rotary International and Dollywood, the singer’s own theme park located in the Great Smoky Mountains.
One day after that milestone, nearly another 100,000 books have already gone out. The work is ongoing. Those who want to help or would like to register a child can do so here.