A statewide expansion of a free book program was announced Tuesday, providing millions of children in California with free literature thanks to Dolly Parton.
The nationwide program is active across 30 counties in California, with the expansion to fully cover the state’s 58 counties and around 2.4 million eligible children by 2028.
Free books will be mailed directly to the child’s home at no cost to their family and regardless of household income.
Parents or legal guardians can register for the program online. Children will receive one free book per month until their 5th birthday. If a household has more than one child under 5 years old, each child can be registered to receive their own set of books.
California will be the first state to offer a fully bilingual English/Spanish book option under the Imagination Library program.
With aims to encourage preschool children to develop an early love of reading and learning, the bill received bipartisan support in both houses.
“I’m so thrilled at the overwhelming support to make my Imagination Library available to every child in California!” said Parton. “Today is an amazing milestone for children and families across the state! We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a love of reading in children across California that will last a lifetime.”
“Dolly Parton unites us through her music — and through her commitment to helping all kids develop a love for reading,” said Gov. Newsom. “With this statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, California is on track to put more free books in children’s hands than any other state in the nation — broadening millions of young minds to a world of unlimited possibilities.”
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 all 50 states and five countries, donating over 200 million books.