About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has mailed well over 100 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.4 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com.
Program History in Waco
The Imagination Library of Waco was started in 2020. The mission is to ensure that all children in Waco grow up surrounded by books. It’s that simple. Imagination Library of Waco is the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. As the local affiliate, we are responsible for enrolling children and funding the program. Imagination Library of Waco currently serves five zip codes in the heart of Waco, with plans to expand to all of McLennan County.
National Program History
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is the flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation. The Dollywood Foundation was created in 1988 by Dolly Parton to inspire the children in her home county to achieve educational success. Initial efforts focused on decreasing the dropout rate in the county’s high school. In the early 1990’s, Dolly promised every 7th-grade and 8th-grade student $500 if they successfully graduated from high school. This effort, called the Buddy Program, reduced the dropout rate for these two classes from 35% to 6%. More importantly, the program catalyzed the community to provide additional resources to sustain this improvement in the dropout rate.
In 1995, the Foundation implemented Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. This monthly book gifting program for children under five focused on inspiring a love of books and reading for all preschool children in the county. What was founded as a local program grew into an international movement through the unique partnership among the Foundation, the publisher, the fulfillment centers and the thousands of local organizations who adopted the program. The Imagination Library continues to be the signature program of the Foundation.
The program became such a success that in 2000 a national replication effort was underway. By 2003, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had mailed one million books. It would prove to be the first of many millions of books sent to children around the world.
Dolly’s home state of Tennessee pledged to pursue statewide coverage in 2004 and global expansion was on the horizon. After the United States, the program launched in Canada in 2006 followed by the United Kingdom in 2007. Australia’s program was launched in 2013 with the Republic of Ireland joining in 2019.