United Way of the Southern Tier celebrates Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library 200-millon book milestone

July 11, 2023:

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is celebrating 200 million books being gifted globally since its inception in 1995. The special occasion is being marked by randomly hiding seven bookmarks in books mailed to children in September.

Seven random children/families in five countries who find the Dolly bookmarks in their Imagination Library books will receive, if they choose, a video chat with Dolly, a personalized signed letter from Dolly, an autographed photo from Dolly, and four Dollywood Theme Park tickets. The Dollywood Foundation will also donate $2,000 on behalf of the child to their local Imagination Library partner as a thank you to those who Dolly calls the true heroes of her program. 

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly started the Imagination Library in 1995 to serve the children of her hometown in Sevier County, Tennessee. Today, her program spans five countries and gifts over 2.4 million free, high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to children around the world. 

United Way of the Southern Tier, which became an affiliate of the Imagination Library in 2018, is excited to celebrate with every child and family enrolled locally.

This month, 4,439 children in Chemung and Steuben counties will receive a free, age-appropriate book by mail, with similar numbers served each month. In addition, 4,030 children have “graduated” from the program, aging out when they turned 5 years old.

Children must be enrolled in the program by July 31, 2023, to receive Imagination Library books in September, which is International Literacy Month. All children under age 5 who live in Chemung and Steuben counties can be enrolled. The program is free to children/families and supported by generous donations to United Way.

“I know there are children in communities around the world with big dreams and the seeds of these dreams are often found in books,” said Dolly. “It’s been one of my greatest gifts in life to help instill a love of reading through my Imagination Library. Reaching 200 million books worldwide is a major milestone that I’m so very proud of, and I want to thank all of our local program partners, funders, and supporters from the bottom of my heart. But we’re just getting warmed up; we have so much more to do! Together, we can inspire even more children to dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.”

Learn more

For more information, please contact United Way Director of Communications and Community Engagement Lois Wilson by email or at 607-377-5834.