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Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to expand statewide in Indiana, starting Sept. 1

This pictures shows a cardboard cutout of Dolly Parton reading a book. Next to her, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also poses with an open book. They are inside a grand building with marble floors and walls and big windows.
Violet Comber-Wilen
IPB News
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb poses beside a cardboard cutout of Dolly Parton at an event celebrating the statewide expansion of the singer and philanthropist's Imagination Library program on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Starting next month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will be available in all 92 Indiana counties, thanks to state government providing funding for the first time.

The program that provides free books every month to children from birth to age 5 was previously available in a little more than half the state.

By providing $6 million in the new state budget, state government is picking up half the cost of the reading program, with local partners responsible for the other half. That allows the program to spread statewide, since previously communities had to pick up the cost entirely on their own.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said helping young children read creates a critical foundation.

“To hopefully not just pursue their passion or their purpose, but hopefully ultimately their prosperity,” Holcomb said.

READ MORE: New science of reading training available to teachers through Indiana Department of Education

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.

The Dollywood Foundation operates the program. Regional Director Lauren Wirt said the statewide expansion will initially help reach at least 6,500 more children.

"Dolly's mission for the program, still to this day, is the same: to simply inspire a love of reading," Wirt said.

The program is available to children regardless of income level. To learn more or sign up, visit imaginationlibrary.com.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Brandon Smith