Dolly Parton's Imagination Library project is expanding into Maine, with free books for young children across the state.

What is the Imagination Library?

The project was originally launched in 1995 and is the flagship program of the Dollywood Foundation. Well over 182 million free books have been gifted to children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland through this non-profit organization. Dolly explains how the project got started on the Imagination Library website, stating that the inspiration for children to grow into what they will eventually become is often found in books. Dreams often begin with reading.

Who Will Get the Books?

Gov. Janet Mills announced the program's expansion into Maine after a virtual discussion with the Country Music icon during the recent National Governor's Association conference. The Imagination Library will mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to Maine children from birth until age 5 every month. Their family's income is not a factor. All children in that age bracket, enrolled in the program, will receive the books. The hope is that those books will help foster a love for reading and learning. Details about how children get enrolled will be forthcoming, as the local infrastructure develops.

How Much Will the State Have to Pay to Implement it?

The cost of the program will be shared by Dolly, local community partners, and an initial $200,000 investment that was built into the Governor's budget. The Maine State Library will implement the program and will work with the Dollywood Foundation to develop a strategy with local libraries to get the program started and expand it in the coming years. Right now, the goal is to send an initial 106,000 books to more than 14,000 Maine children by the end of 2023. Governor Mills says reading helps children learn, but also helps relieve stress and anxiety, and develop literacy skills they will need later in life.

Maine is proud to join the family of states that participate in the Imagination Library. On behalf of all Maine children who will be served by this program in the years to come, I thank the one-and-only Dolly Parton.

Maine is the 13th state to commit to achieving statewide coverage of the Imagination Library program.

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