Thursday, May 12, 2022

State Dep't of Education launches statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Hofmeister launches statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 10, 2022) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is investing $2.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to all 77 counties in Oklahoma.  

The OSDE will provide a 1:1 match of all funds raised by local community partners, ensuring as many as 264,000 Oklahoma children from birth to age 5 have free, high-quality, age-appropriate books mailed to their homes on a monthly basis. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in well-documented learning disruptions. The impacts on our youngest learners are particularly troubling and appear to be most severe among our most vulnerable student populations,” said Hofmeister. “These challenges underscore the need for robust early literacy interventions to help our get kids back on track. We are thrilled to partner with Dolly Parton, one of the world’s most noted supporters of early literacy, to help our kids build critical literacy skills before they ever step foot in Pre-K.”

The Oklahoma statewide launch of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library was made at a news conference this morning at the Educare Oklahoma City early childhood center. Speakers included Hofmeister, Nora Griggs from The Dollywood Foundation and Jenny Jamison for Lake Area United Way, which is a current Imagination Library affiliate in Muskogee and Dolly Parton herself appeared in a video message.

Entertainer, businessperson and philanthropist Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library program in 1995 as a way to distribute books to the impoverished Tennessee County where she grew up. The state of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide. To date, the Imagination Library has mailed more than 178 million free books to children across three continents. Oklahoma is the 12th state to commit to achieving statewide coverage. 

“I’m so excited to be working with Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education to bring my Imagination Library to Oklahoma. Together let’s inspire a love of reading and learning in every child in Oklahoma,” said Parton. 

The Imagination Library’s unique funding structure centers on community partnerships. Worldwide, nearly 2,000 local affiliate programs enroll families and raise program costs of $2.10 per book per month. With the OSDE’s 1:1 match, each Oklahoma affiliate will be responsible for just $1.05 per child per month. Thirteen affiliates are currently operating in Oklahoma, serving more than 4,000 of the state’s eligible children under age 5, with another six affiliates in process. Children enrolled in an active affiliate are also eligible for the OSDE matching funds. 

The Imagination Library of Oklahoma was authorized under 2020 legislation, 70 O.S. § 3-104.10 and § 3-104.11, authored by Sen. John Haste and Rep. Tammy Townley. 

The OSDE’s investment in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Oklahoma will be funded through 2024 and is a component of Ready Together Oklahoma: An Action Plan for Supporting Students Through the Pandemic and Beyond. For additional information about statewide expansion of the Imagination Library of Oklahoma, click here

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. In partnership with local community affiliates, the program has gifted well over 178 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and The Republic of Ireland.  

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995 to foster a love of reading for the children within her home county. Today, her program mails over 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month directly to children’s homes.  Each child enrolled in the program receives one book per month until their fifth birthday – at no cost to families.   

The impact of the program has been widely researched, and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit 

Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, read to one of the newest members of Oklahoma’s Imagination Library, 4-month-old Finn Kavanagh, of Oklahoma City. The book, “Good Morning, Farm Friends,” is among the books sent free to children monthly from birth to age five, and has been proven to help children become better readers.  Haste and Townley authored the 2020 legislation bringing the program to Oklahoma.

Authors of Oklahoma’s Imagination Library celebrate program’s statewide expansion by reading to one of the state’s newest members

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 11th) – Now that Oklahoma’s Imagination Library will be expanding to all 77 counties, the legislators who authored the measure creating the state’s program are working to help spread the news. Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow and Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, were co-authors of the 2020 legislation.

The Imagination Library is the creation of singer, songwriter, actress and author, Dolly Parton who started the program in her home state of Tennessee. The Imagination Library has since been replicated across the country and around the world and continues to grow.  After hearing Parton speak about her reading initiative at a conference in 2019, Haste and Townley began working to create an Imagination Library program in Oklahoma, and their bill was signed into law in 2020. The bill created the revolving fund to help develop and promote the Imagine Library in Oklahoma, and directed it to be administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). 

OSDE recently announced $2.5 million would be available to capture matching funds in communities throughout the state to pay for the cost of the books, postage, and other related expenses.  So far, some 13 partners are helping provide funds to bring the Imagination Library to local communities, with more partners expected to join soon.

Haste and Townley marked the statewide expansion of the program this week by reading to one of Oklahoma’s newest members, 4-month-old Finn Kavanagh, of Oklahoma City, who listened attentively to the story “Good Morning, Farm Friends,” one of the many books included in the Imagination Library each child receives. (Video linked here)

“It’s easy to sign up, and starting from birth through age five, free age-appropriate books will be mailed directly to each child monthly,” Haste said. “It’s an amazing program that’s been proven to help foster a love of books and reading that will help kids succeed in school and throughout their lives.  It also gives parents and grandparents just one more important way they can bond with their children and grandchildren.”

“I love that the first book in the series is ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ What a positive message for kids to hear right from the start,” Townley said. “The last book is ‘Kindergarten, Here I Come!,’ and it includes a link to a message from Dolly, urging children to keep on reading and to check out their local libraries for even more great books.  We’re so excited for all the possibilities this program will open up for Oklahoma children.”

To enroll your child in the Imagination Library, you can go to If the program is not yet available in your area, you can leave your email address for future notifications of availability.


Post a Comment

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at! Your opinion is appreciated!