Dolly Parton Reads

“We know that children who start Kindergarten with an awareness of letters and basic language sounds become better readers and face fewer challenges in the years ahead. We also know that the more reading material kids are exposed to at home, the better they score on reading tests throughout their lives. So we need to make investments in family literacy programs and early childhood education so that kids aren't left behind before they even go to school. And we need to get books in our kids' hands early and often.”

Barack Obama (2005)


Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a unique program that mails a new, age-appropriate book to the homes of children every month from birth to age five. When Dolly was growing up in the hills of Tennessee, she saw firsthand the lifelong challenges that illiteracy meant to her friends and relatives. Dolly felt that reading was the key to a strong education, and that a child’s imagination is the center of his or her dreams and creativity. By combining the two, the Imagination Library program hopes to inspire children to dream more, learn more, care more, and be more. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing these mini home libraries.

The Carol Pufahl Literacy Foundation’s affiliation with the Imagination Library provides opportunities to foster this lifelong love of reading and learning from an early age. This partnership helps children establish a strong educational foundation early in life.

From the arrival of the first book, the classic The Little Engine That Could, to the last, Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!, when the child turns five, the family experiences the excitement of receiving their very own books in their mailbox. Regardless of age, the first book for every enrolled child is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. After that, all books are age-appropriate. By the time they enter kindergarten, children will have their own library of books and be more prepared to enter school and become readers.


  • When will a child receive his/her first book?

    It generally takes 8-10 weeks from the time of enrollment until the first book is received.  The first book every child receives, regardless of multiple children in a family, is The Little Engine That Could.

  • How do participating children get the books?

    Each month, a new age-appropriate book is mailed to the child at the home address provided on the registration form.

  • In a family with multiple children receiving books, will each child receive their book on the same day?

    The books are mailed third class bulk rate non-profit mail and are based upon their size and weight. Therefore they will often arrive on different days for multiple children in one given home.

  • How are the books selected?

    The books are new, age-appropriate books selected by a team of early childhood education experts appointed by the Dollywood Foundation. Each June, the committee sorts through a world of possibilities to select a quality, diverse and universal collection of titles. To see a representative list of books children receive, click here. There are 60 books in all if the child is registered at birth.

  • What if a child doesn’t receive a book?

    Please contact the Carol Pufahl Literacy Foundation at or call 631.837.3232 to explore possible solutions.

  • What are the benefits of participating in the program?

    There are lots of great benefits to parents and children. Participation in the program and reading the books to your child has been shown to:

    • Build vocabulary. Reading regularly with your child helps him/her learn to read by hearing familiar words and seeing what they look like in print. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary. The larger the child’s vocabulary, the more likely he/she will be a proficient reader.
    • Enhance learning. The more you talk and read to your child, the faster he/she will learn. The report of the Commission on Reading states that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
    • Prepare children for success in school. According to studies completed by the several participating counties, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten teachers reported that children who had participated in the Imagination Library were “better prepared” than students who had not participated in the program. Kindergarten teachers rated Imagination Library kindergarten students higher on reading, speaking, thinking and social skills than non-participating students.
    • Increase the bond between parent and child. Reading to your child encourages him/her to associate reading with love and comfort.
  • What if I have other questions?

    If you still have a question, visit the Contact Us page to send a message directly to The Carol Pufahl Literacy Foundation.

Imagination Library Information