OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Country superstar, American icon and literacy champion Dolly Parton visited Overland Park on Monday to celebrate a new partnership with the state of Kansas, expanding her Imagination Library program.
Now, if you live anywhere in Kansas and you have a child under 5 years old, you can sign up your child for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The result is that every month your child will receive a book in the mail completely for free. Here is a link where you can sign up your kids.
Beyond the voice, beyond the magnetic personality, Dolly Parton describes her motivation for creating Imagination Library: her father.
“Being that far back in the mountains, Daddy didn’t go to school. My daddy didn’t learn to read or write. That troubled him, troubled me that he was troubled,” Parton said at the J KC’s White Theatre.
“Daddy got to live long enough to see Imagination Library take off, and I thought that was great,” Parton said.
“She is — she’s Dolly,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said. “What can I say? There’s no question when she walked into the backstage that that was Dolly Parton.”
Kelly, acting as interviewer, notes the first expansion of Imagination Library outside of Tennessee (Parton’s home state) was into Pratt, Kansas.
The current push to bring the program statewide bookends that move that’s already considered popular in some spots.
“We were told that we would probably get about 1,000 kids in our first year. Well we had 1,000 kids in our first seven hours,” said Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.
The group was the first to adopt the program in Johnson County.
“If you sign your child up the day they’re born, they’ll have 60 books in their home library by the time they’re in kindergarten,” Hinkle said.
“She just emanates joy and personality and conviction, and I wouldn’t want to mess with her,” Kelly said of Parton.
“You are so soft spoken. How did you get into politics?” Parton later said on stage, describing Kelly.
“It’s my magic,” Kelly responded.
Parton said her goal was to expand the program nationally to every state. Kansas is the 15th state to enter into this program statewide.