Oklahoma Kicks Off Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

May 10, 2022 | Imagination Library, United States

Oklahoma Kicks Off Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

The Imagination Library will soon be available to all children under five in Oklahoma!

The Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister join Dolly Parton to announce the Oklahoma statewide expansion of her namesake Imagination Library book-gifting program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books each month to children from birth to age five, free of charge through funding shared by local community partners.

“I’m so excited to be working with Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education to bring my Imagination Library to Oklahoma. Together let’s inspire a love of reading and learning in every child in Oklahoma,” says Dolly.

Dolly Parton started the program in 1995 as a way to distribute books to the impoverished Tennessee county where she grew up. The state of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide. Since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries. Oklahoma is the twelfth state to commit to achieving statewide coverage, with Superintendent Hofmeister announcing that the Oklahoma State Department of Education is investing $2.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to expand the reach of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to all 77 counties in Oklahoma.

Goals for Expansion

Through this statewide expansion effort, books will be made available free to children ages birth to five years old in every county in Oklahoma, regardless of the families’ income. Oklahoma’s Imagination Library currently has 13 operating affiliates serving more than 4,000 of the state’s nearly 264,000 eligible children under age 5, with another six affiliates in process.

The program’s unique funding structure centers on local community partnerships. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will provide a 1:1 match of all locally raised funds, ensuring as many as 264,000 Oklahoma children from birth to age 5 have free, high-quality, age appropriate books mailed to their homes on a monthly basis. The OSDE’s investment in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Oklahoma will be funded through June 30, 2024.

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in well-documented learning disruptions. The negative impacts on our youngest learners are particularly troubling and appear to be most severe among our most vulnerable student populations,” says Hofmeister. “These challenges underscore the need for robust early literacy interventions to help our kids get back on track. To date, the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library program has mailed over 180 million free books to children across three continents. We are thrilled to partner with Dolly Parton, one of the world’s most noted supporters of early literacy, to help our kids build critical literacy skills before they ever step foot in Pre-K.”

Register a Child

Check Availability online to enroll Oklahoma children or get involved. Check back often to see if Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has an affiliate in your area or stay tuned to expansion progress and news!