How country music legend Dolly Parton is helping millions of children across California | CNN



Every child under the age of five in California is now qualified to receive a free book in the mail every month, thanks to the state’s expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The newly expanded book-giving program will bestow California with the most extensive Imagination Library nationwide, also making it the first state to provide a bilingual book option in English and Spanish.

Parton, legendary and award-winning country music artist, actress and icon, started the Imagination Library in 1995 with a vision to foster a love of reading.

“Today is an amazing milestone for children and families across the state!” Parton said in a press release sent out by Governor Gavin Newsom’s office Tuesday.

“Dolly Parton unites us through her music – and through her commitment to helping all kids develop a love for reading,” Newsom said.

Newsom said that the expansion will be complete within the next five years, making more than 2.4 million children eligible for the program, “broadening millions of young minds to a world of unlimited possibilities.”

Parton, the self-proclaimed Book Lady, started the Imagination Library in honor of her father.

“He couldn’t read and write, and that hindered him a great deal because he was so smart. It really bothered him a lot” Parton told CNN in a 2019 interview.

The program aims to provide preschool-aged children and their families with specifically selected books despite their financial backgrounds, according to the organization’s website.

Since the initiative launched, the Imagination Library has gifted over 200 million books across 50 states.

California State Librarian Greg Lucas said in Tuesday’s press release that he believes strong readers “are more likely to succeed in school and to succeed in life,” adding that the Imagination Library’s initiative “is the kind of challenge we like at the State Library – working with local partners to put as many books as we can into the hands of as many kids as we can.”

“We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a love of reading in children across California that will last a lifetime,” Parton said.


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