Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), the signature program of The Dollywood Foundation, is active in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Children in the program are eligible to receive one book a month, up to sixty books between birth and age six.
David Dotson is the President of The Dollywood Foundation, which has an annual budget of $20,000,000. With the help of Local Champions, who contribute a little over $2 per book, The Dollywood Foundation produces and distributes approximately 700,000 books per month, as of May of 2012.
Dolly Parton grew up “dirt poor” in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children. She has talked about how her father Robert Lee Parton lived long enough to see Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program start.
He was proud of children calling her “the Book Lady.” A farmer and construction worker, he was an intelligent man who never learned to read and write.
The Dollywood Foundation states, “Almost 300,000 new children were welcomed to the program and the current number of enrolled children surpassed 655,000 in 2012. No doubt, the rate of growth has slowed and sadly some local sponsors could not sustain the program. Yet a fascinating diversity of communities continued to join the ranks–United Ways of St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield (the 3 largest cities in Missouri); Ft. McMurray in Alberta became the largest program in Canada; and in the UK, our special initiative for looked after children now covers 26 Local Authorities in Scotland.”
Furthermore, we were thrilled that the research article based on DPIL (by the extraordinary team from Le Moyne College) has been accepted for publication in the journal, Reading Psychology. The article, “The Imagination Library Program: Increasing Parental Reading Through Book Distribution” by Ridzi, Sylvia, & Singh, marks the first publication of empirical research assessing the impact of this international program in an academic, peerreviewed [sic] journal.
More than 60,000 people have liked DPIL on Facebook. DPIL has over 12,000 followers on Twitter, and reaches nearly 2,500,000 people through Google +.