CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is the latest state to boast full participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the West Virginia Department of Education announced today at the monthly Board of Education meeting. All 55 counties are now fully active to serve the state’s youngest learners. Established in 1995, this international program provides books to children, ages birth to five, throughout the country with a book each month to encourage reading from an early age. In West Virginia, more than 3 million books have been delivered to children since 2007.
With this benchmark of full county participation, West Virginia joins only 11 states and the District of Columbia to earn this distinction.
The state’s Imagination Library program, conducted in partnership with the June Harless Center at Marshall University, is a cornerstone of the state’s early literacy efforts. By gifting children high-quality books starting at birth, all children have access to developmentally appropriate reading materials at no cost to the family and regardless of the family’s income. Built on decades of research, Imagination Library is rooted in the belief that having books at home helps children develop literacy skills early in life.
“I am thrilled to share that every child from zero to five in West Virginia is eligible to register for my Imagination Library,” said Dolly Parton in a recorded message. “Together, we can inspire children to dream more, care more, learn more and be more.”
“We cannot overstate the importance of early childhood literacy,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Early literacy development begins at birth and has a profound impact on children’s future reading ability. The Imagination Library is our opportunity to help children establish healthy reading habits while also developing skills that will be beneficial throughout their academic journey. I want to thank Dolly Parton for opening the world to our children through books in their homes.”
“The Imagination Library is special to us. We love books as a family, but we love getting books in the mail each month,” said Kati Holland, a parent whose child receives Imagination Library books. “I love that the books are age-appropriate and each month the book is a surprise for us.”
Since 2018, the program has grown from 41 to 55 counties and almost 2 million books have been delivered since that time. Families may register for the Imagination Library through local affiliate programs or by visiting wvde.us/west-virginias-imagination-library. The Dollywood Foundation selects books that are sent to the homes each month based on the child’s age.
To hear a special message from Dolly Parton about West Virginia’s participation, visit https://youtu.be/51y2clqQ008.