This week is being proclaimed as “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Week” in the city and county of McPherson. Enrollment began Monday on United Way of McPherson County’s website. United Way is serving as the “local champion” for the Imagination Library.
United Way of McPherson County has been working since early 2018 to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to preschool children in McPherson County. Dolly created the Imagination Library in 1995 for her home county in Tennessee in honor of her father, who was unable to read or write. The program has had phenomenal growth and now mails more than 1 million books to children each month.
The program mails monthly, age-appropriate books to children free of charge from birth until they turn five years old. Enrollment is now available to all children who are permanent residents of McPherson County. Parents or guardians may enroll their children at the United Way website at www.unitedwaymcpherson.org. It does take up to three months for the books to begin arriving. Each child first receives the book “The Little Engine That Could.” Then, depending on the child’s birthdate, they will receive books appropriate for their age.
While Dolly Parton has underwritten the costs for the infrastructure of the program, local communities must raise the money to pay for the books and their mailing. United Way’s inaugural gift for the Imagination Library came from Denise O’Connor-Munsey, and funds from the Mike O’Connor United Way Challenge Grant Fund held by the McPherson County Community Foundation. A number of other gifts from businesses, individuals, civic groups and foundations have followed, with additional funding from United Way to fund the program.
“(The program) will encourage parents, grandparents, and guardians to read to their children to help kids discover the joy of reading and improve early grade literacy in the process,” Chair of United Way’s Community Impact Committee Lara Vanderhoof said “ We believe the Imagination Library will help children be ready to learn when they start kindergarten.”