Dolly Parton Extends “Imagination Library” to California, Offers Free Books to Children

To add to the seemingly never-ending list of reasons to love Dolly Parton—a new bill has just been signed into law in California that will provide children with free books.

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Per a report by KTLA 75, Parton’s “Imagination Library” program will supply books free of charge for children from birth to five years old. The bill (SB 1183), was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newson and will begin in June of 2023.

Parton, who has long been a proponent of childhood literacy, began the Imagination Library in 1995. According to the website, The Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books free of charge to children from birth to age five, through funding shared by Dolly Parton and local community partners in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Republic of Ireland.

The program started with Tennessee, as a nod to Parton’s roots, and has grown across 14 states and five countries. To date, the program has supplied over 186 million books.

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true,” said Parton of the program. “I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

“The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

Parents or legal guardians can register their child online, HERE. After registering, children will receive one free book per month until their 5th birthday—what did we do to deserve Dolly?

All California counties will be covered by the new bill, which means up to 2.4 million children are eligible.

Sen. Shannon Grove, a co-author of the bill, told KTLA, “Today marks a significant day, the beginning of a magnificent statewide program which will put books in the hands of California children at a young age, opening the door to limitless possibility for their future.”

Sen. Toni Atkins, added, “Growing up with very little money in southwest Virginia, my parents taught me that books were my ticket to see the world. A deep love of reading and learning is the greatest gift they ever gave me—it is so special to be able to pass that on to children across California. And, to be able to do so in partnership with my friend, Senator Grove, and my country music idol, Dolly Parton, is just icing on the cake.”

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW)

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