Beginning in 2023, the State of Maine and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will give children birth to five years old one book every month, free of charge thanks to funding from Dolly Parton, the state of Maine, and local community partners
The Imagination Library of Maine will mail high-quality, age appropriate books to children from birth until age five every month, no matter their family’s income. The program is dedicated to improving the lives of children by inspiring a love of reading with books, and is free to enrolled children and families. By the end of 2023, the State of Maine and the Imagination Library hope to have sent an initial 106,000 books to more than 14,000 children across Maine.
“We know the simple act of reading to a child stimulates brain development, reduces stress and anxiety, builds vocabulary, and develops the literacy skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Today, we are taking another step forward to help make that happen by delivering books free of charge to Maine kids. Maine is proud to join the family of states that participate in the Imagination Library. On behalf of all Maine children who will be served by this program in the years to come, I thank the one-and-only Dolly Parton.”
Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library 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, and, since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries. As of June 2022, the Imagination Library has gifted 184,615,046 books with over 2 million kids currently registered.
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.