A new bill signed into law will now provide millions of children in California with free books thanks to Dolly Parton.
The bill, SB 1183, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom and will provide funding for Parton’s “Imagination Library” program, providing free books to children from birth to 5 years old.
Aiming to encourage preschool children to develop an early love of reading and learning, the bill received bipartisan support in both houses.
Free books will be mailed directly to the child’s home at no cost to their family. The program is slated to begin in June 2023.
Parents or legal guardians can register their child for the program online. Children will receive one free book per month until their 5th birthday.
The statewide program will cover all 58 California counties with up to 2.4 million children eligible to participate. Bilingual options will also be available in California, marking a first for the program.
Founded in 1995, the Imagination Library began in Parton’s childhood hometown in Tennessee. Since the state of Tennessee adopted the program, it’s expanded across 14 states and five countries, donating over 186 million books.
“Today marks a significant day, the beginning of a magnificent statewide program which will put books in the hands of California children at a young age, opening the door to limitless possibility for their future,” said Sen. Shannon Grove, co-author of the bill.
“Growing up with very little money in southwest Virginia, my parents taught me that books were my ticket to see the world,” said Sen. Toni Atkins, co-author of the bill. “A deep love of reading and learning is the greatest gift they ever gave me — it is so special to be able to pass that on to children across California. And, to be able to do so in partnership with my friend, Senator Grove, and my country music idol, Dolly Parton, is just icing on the cake.”