KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Country music icon Dolly Parton announced Monday a statewide expansion of her "Imagination Library" book gifting program across Kansas.
Parton made the announcement with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Rep. Troy Waymaster and the Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund.
The library's goal is to inspire a love of reading by gifting books to children 5 years old and younger, according to a press release from the Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund. With this expansion, the program hopes to make books available for free to children in every zip code of Kansas.
The current Imagination Library program covers 77 of 105 Kansas counties with 82 programs across the state. About 21% of eligible children in the state are currently receiving books through the program, according to the release.
"I'm so excited to be working with Governor Laura Kelly and the Kansas Children's Cabinet to bring my Imagination Library to more children and families across Kansas!" Parton said in the release. "Together we can gift a love of reading that will last a lifetime."
The program is funded through local community partners.
One of the promises of the first year of the expansion is to form partnerships with the local community, like school districts, businesses and local foundations, according to the release. The second is to provide start-up funding through the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Renewal, which will provide funding to enroll new children into the programs and sustain its operations.
“We know that the most important factor in a child’s success in school and in life is an early introduction to books and being read to at home,” Kelly said in the release. “In Kansas, we are proud to connect our kids with the resources they need to succeed through the statewide expansion of the Imagination Library program.”
The Imagination Library was launched by Parton in 1995. The program mails over 1.8 million books each month to registered children.