On February 27, Dolly Parton was celebrated at the Library of Congress for having mailed 100 million free books to preschool children through her Dolly Parton Imagination Library project.
Now, thanks to an unrestricted bequest to the Richmond County Public Library by Berry and Carolyn Gray, Richmond County children from birth to the age of five can be registered with the Imagination Library to receive a free book in the mail every month from Dolly Parton until their 5th birthday.
“Getting books in the hands of preschool children and encouraging parents to read to their babies and toddlers are the most important missions of our public library,” says Richmond County Public Library director Dan Ream. “Nothing can better ensure the success of children in school and a lifelong love of reading than parents reading to their babies and toddlers,” he said.
“When the Grays’ gift came to us, it gave us the opportunity to become an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for Richmond County. As an affiliate, we promote the Imagination Library, register children from birth to age five, and pay the bulk mail postage on all the books mailed to the children in our county. We are grateful to the RCC Educational Foundation for partnering with us on this project to secure the required bulk mail permit. The Grays’ legacy will enable us to offer this to all Richmond County children for the next five years, after which we hope to find other sponsors”, says Ream.
While the Richmond County Public Library will pay the mailing costs, the Dolly Parton Foundation pays for all of the books, making the program free for all participating families. There are no income requirements or other qualifications to register for this, other than age and location of residence. Parents can register any child from birth to age five with a Richmond County mailing address to receive these monthly books in the mail, which are selected by a professional team of reading specialists working with the Dolly Parton Foundation.
“Limiting this program to Richmond County residents will be unusual for our library, as in all other respects we serve residents from all surrounding counties in addition to Richmond County,” says Ream. “The Dolly Parton Imagination Library requires each affiliate to define the boundaries of their service area more precisely than our library normally does.”
Children who are registered before July 1 will receive their first book in the mail in August, chosen for their specific age group. Afterward, children enrolled will usually begin receiving their first books about 6 to 9 weeks after registering.
Parents may register their children online at https://www.imaginationlibrary.com/ or by filling in a brochure found at the Richmond County Public Library at the RCC Warsaw Campus (52 Campus Drive, Warsaw, VA 22572) or mailing in an Imagination Library brochure found at area preschools and daycare centers to the Richmond County Public Library.
The Richmond County Public Library will hold a kickoff event for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in combination with their Summer Reading program kickoff on Saturday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the RCC Warsaw Campus. Entertainment and a free lunch will be provided. Call the RCC/Richmond County Public Library at 804-333-6710 with any questions about the program.