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Photo: Dolly Parton Book Club

Missouri partners with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide books to children

The state of Missouri is teaming up with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to promote childhood literacy. A new state law designates at least $5 million in state funding annually toward the effort.

“This project will help us get books in the hands of families,” Pam Thomas, assistant commissioner in the Missouri Office of Childhood says. “Getting books in the hands of infants and toddlers and preschoolers at a young age is directly connected to their readiness to read.”

The program provides books each month at no cost to children from birth to age 5. About 450,000 Missouri kids could sign up to get books each month. Imagination Library spans five countries and donates more than one million books on a monthly basis. The Dollywood Foundation selects the books and sends them directly to children.

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Parton was inspired by her father, who couldn’t read or write.

“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,” Parton said on Imagination Library’s website. “Before he passed away, my daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my daddy.”

The program is set to begin in Missouri next summer.

“We’ll be looking to some of our community leaders, some of our nonprofit programs in local communities in every county throughout the state, school districts our parent education program and other early childhood programs who are reaching families,” Thomas said. “We’ll be looking at them to help us get the word out and to direct families to the website to sign up.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice