Dolly Parton Imagination Library: How Your Child Can Recieve Free Books In Upstate, SC

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The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has been providing free books for young children for years. Recently unavailable in the Upstate, the program has now returned to Spartanburg and kicked off in Greenville. Find out what you need to do to receive free books for your child for up to five years.

Other local resources for children to access books include the Spartanburg Little Free Libraries, Spartanburg County Library Resources, Greenville County Library Resources, and Reach out and Read.

Guinea Pig Reading

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Would you like to provide your child with their own library of books, free of charge? Did you know that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a free program that does just that? We have all the details on how you can add up to 60 quality books to each of your preschool-age child’s book collections.

For over 20 years, Dolly Parton, country music legend, has been getting books into the hands of young children, who may otherwise not have access to them. The Imagination Library was started in her hometown of  Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1995, and since then, it has expanded to three other countries, including Canada, Australia, and The United Kingdom. 

 “It started as a very personal thing for me. There were no books in our house growing up, and my dad could not read nor write. It was a very crippling thing for him.” – Dolly Parton

The program provides over a million books a month to children under five, regardless of household income. These are high-quality books nationally released through Penguin Random House publishers and available to the public wherever books are sold. In most cases, a special “Imagination Library” edition of the book is published. This special edition includes a mini-study guide in the back flap, designed to inspire the love of reading and learning in children.

The books my children have received over the years have included top children’s literary titles, including – Llama Llama, Corduroy, The little Golden Books, Peppa Pig, The Little Engine That Could, and more.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library free books

How To Know If Your Home Qualifies For The Program

Visit the  Imagination Library Website to confirm your residence quilifies. This program is not income based, and if your area is included in the program then you will be able to sign your child up for the free books.

Signing Up In Spartanburg County

Thanks to the support of the non-profit group, Palmetto Project, The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has returned to the Spartanburg. Currently, inclusion in the program is based on your zip code. The included zip codes are:

  • 29301 – Spartanburg 
  • 29303 – Spartanburg
  • 29307 – Spartanburg
  • 29323 – Chesnee
  • 29349 – Inman 
  • 29372 – Pacolet 

The area serviced uner the new sponsor is smaller than previously, so if you qualified under the United Way sponsored program, and don’t now, that is why. 

Signing Up For The New Program In Greenville and Anderson Counties

Thanks to the support of the non-profit group, Greenville First Steps, Dolly Parton Imagination Library is now available in Greenville and Anderson. Currently, inclusion in the program is based on your zip code. The included zip codes are:

  • 29690 – Travelers Rest 
  • 29611 – Greenville (Downtown)
  • 29669 – Pelzer (Anderson County) 

In the event your residence doesn’t qualify, Greenville First Steps offers other programs for children.

Get Your Child Signed Up For The Imagination Library

Getting your child signed up is simple. To register your preschool-age child, visit the Imagination Library Website.
Once you confirm availability, you’ll need to register your child. After that, you will receive an approval email from the local sponsor that your child has been accepted into the program. Depending on when you register, in approximately 8 weeks, you’ll start receiving age-appropriate books for your child. He or she will continue receiving these books monthly until they turn five, with no other action required of you to continue participation in the program.

  • I recommend visiting the Imagination Library website occasionally as it provides resources for parents, including tips for reading to children and engaging them in the stories you read together.
  • If you know someone expecting a baby, be sure to pass this info along to them. If a child is registered at birth, they will receive the complete 60 volume library of books by their fifth birthday.

 llama in pajamas

The Imagination Library Helps Deaf and Hard Of Hearing Kids Too.

Since 2012, deaf and hard of hearing children have been able to benefit from the program also. Through a partnership with the American Printing House For The Blind, audiobooks and braille editions of select Imagination Library books are provided for deaf and hard of hearing children.

By enrolling in the Braille Tales Print/Braille Book Program, participating families receive six free print/braille books each year until the child reaches his/her 6th birthday.  For more information about these special editions, click here.

The United Way Of The Piedmont Ended Support Of The Imagination Library Across Spartanburg in 2021

Unfortunately, due to a reassessment by United Way of the Piedmont of their programs, the funds that support the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will cease in June of 2021. While the program is international, funds for a community to participate depends on local involvement through the United Way chapter or another sponsor.

Children currently enrolled continued to receive the monthly Imagination Library books through June 2021.

In response to the announcement made this week, The United Way of Piedmont posted this comment on our Facebook post:

It was a difficult decision to discontinue the Imagination Library program, and it was not one that our Board of Directors made lightly. COVID-19 has resulted in additional challenges for our children, and resources are precious and have to be invested to get maximum impact. One challenge is our local Imagination Library is not funded by the Dollywood Foundation or Dolly Parton. The Dollywood Foundation provides the back-office logistics to sign up and deliver books, but all financial support and actual cost of the books has to come from a local “host” organization which has been our role. United Way of the Piedmont has paid $30 per child per year for children to be enrolled in this program. At the height of enrollment, 11,000 children received books. We’ve spent the last six months collecting data and asking for input from educators and early literacy experts. We asked, “Where are the gaps that need to be filled to ensure our children are successful in school, and what has changed because of COVID?” Analysis of the data and what we’ve been told is guiding the creation of a more comprehensive plan to help improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children. We remain committed to access to books, but the professionals have told us our children need more than just access to books. Programs receiving funding are held to the highest standard because there are always more needs than resources to meet them. Our goal is to ensure donor dollars do the most good for the most people in a way that improves our community as a whole. Be on the look-out for the comprehensive plan to be launched this fall!

The United Way Of The Piedmont
About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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