Maine announces goal to make books available to all children ages 0-5 in every county!
“A lot of good people worked to make this possible, but I want to send my personal thanks to Governor Janet Mills who helped make this dream a reality for children and families across Maine,” said Dolly.
“My mother introduced me to the library, encouraged me to read books of every kind, and instilled in me a lifelong love of reading. I’m thrilled to help expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across our state so that thousands of Maine children can strengthen their reading skills and learn to love reading,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I thank the one-and-only Dolly Parton for working with my Administration to bring this important program to Maine.
Following today’s announcement, the Governor read to local children at the Bangor Public Library to celebrate the program and highlight the importance of child literacy. Last summer, Governor Mills announced that Maine would expand the program statewide in 2023 during a virtual discussion with Dolly at the 2023 National Governor’s Association Summer Meeting in Portland.
In the bipartisan budget passed last year, Governor Mills proposed, and the Legislature approved, a $200,000 investment to implement the program, which is administered by the Maine State Library. Together, The Dollywood Foundation and the Maine State Library are executing an implementation strategy with local libraries, community non-profits, the Maine Department of Education, and school systems – to establish and expand the program in the coming years.
Goals for Expansion
Currently, over 4,500 eligible children in Maine are receiving free books through 12 local partners across the state. The Maine State Library and the Dollywood Foundation are working to expand the program to all sixteen counties statewide, with an immediate goal of enrolling 65% of eligible children (63,932) as quickly as possible.
The Imagination Library builds on the Mills Administration’s commitment to increasing childhood literacy in Maine, including investing $10 million through the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to create and expand preschool programs across Maine.
The Administration has also created the “Literacy for ME 2.0” to revamp its statewide literacy plan and the Maine Association for Improving Literacy to mobilize a network of educators who are committed to supporting statewide literacy efforts.
According to The Dollywood Foundation, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, making that time period critically important for their development that can be enhanced by reading books. The Foundation notes that daily readings by parents or caregivers provide the greatest opportunity to prepare their child for school and that literacy is a major social determinant of health and economic impact in the long term.
Register a Child
The program is free of charge to families and made possible through funding shared by Dolly and local community partners in the state. Check availability to enroll your child or sign up to be notified when this program comes to your community. Visit back often as we expand across the state.