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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a waiting list?

Our affiliate site at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County is currently only able to mail books to the number of children for whom we have fundraised to enroll. In two short years (thanks to the help of Buncombe Partnership for Children, the NC General Assembly, and other generous partners), we have grown from funding 200 children in Buncombe County to 1,270! Unfortunately, however, the interest is often higher than the funding. Therefore, once we reach our maximum capacity, we add children to a waiting list. To keep the waiting list as equitable as possible, we add children based on enrollment date, either the date we receive the child’s enrollment paperwork (first-time recipient) or the date we receive their digital transfer (previously enrolled elsewhere). 

Didn’t North Carolina just fund all children for the program?

In the 2017-2019 final state budget, the North Carolina General Assembly approved $3.5 million (2017/18) and $7 million (2018/19) for Smart Start to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across North Carolina. However, it would cost over $15 million to serve every single child in the state! We are so thankful that these funds have allowed us to double our program size in 2017/18, but also understand that it does not allow for the enrollment of every child in our community.

I contacted someone to sign up before there was a program in Buncombe County. Why hasn’t my child ever received books?

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County became a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library affiliate for Buncombe County in Nov. 2015. If you contacted someone (either here in our community or at Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library headquarters) about the program before Nov. 2015, you were not added to the waiting list because there was no program serving Buncombe County at that time. To be registered for the waiting list after Nov. 2015, you would have needed to fill out a registration form and returned it to the Literacy Council of Buncombe County.

If you would like to register your child for the program, please fill out the registration form and mail or email it to us. You will be added to the waiting list in the order in which we receive your registration. If you aren’t sure if you child is already on the waiting list, you may find out by emailing imaginationlibrary@litcouncil.com.

I don’t live in Buncombe County. Can I sign my child up to receive books?

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library registrations are handled by local affiliates, like the Literacy Council of Buncombe County, who serve specified areas. Click here and enter your zip code to find out if there is a local affiliate serving your county/community.

I’m pregnant. Can I add my unborn child to the waiting list?

Yes! Just fill out the registration form with your due date and mail or email it to us. Then contact us when the baby is born with their actual birth date.

What happens if my child turns five while on the waiting list?

This happens occasionally when a child is almost five years old when added to the waiting list. We will contact you to find out your child’s special interests (characters, themes, subjects, etc.) and select 3-5 books from our library of donated new and lightly used children’s books for them. With your permission, we can even hand-deliver these books to your home!

I have twins. Will they receive the same book every month? 

Unfortunately, yes. Instead of receiving two identical books every month, most families with twins opt to enroll both children as one. We can put both children’s names on the mailing label, so they will receive the gift together each month. This allows the Literacy Council to enroll an additional child from the waiting list to receive the second book.

My older child already receives books. If I enroll my younger child, will they receive the same books that my older child did?

The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Book Selection Committee rotates approximately 25% of titles for each age group each year. Families who enroll multiple children and therefore receive some “repeat” books often choose to donate the duplicates back to the Literacy Council to give to children on the waiting list. Other families donate the duplicates to homeless shelters, school libraries, and other nonprofits. Please remember to peel the mailing label from the back of the books before donating to protect your privacy.

We moved here and transferred our enrollment. Will my child receive the same books they received before we moved?

No. Each month, the book a child receives is determined based on their birthday. This ensures that children receive books that are appropriate for their age and developmental stage. It also means that one child should never receive the same book twice, even if they move!

How long does it take to receive my child’s first book once I have received the email that my child has been enrolled?

It can take 6-8 weeks after being enrolled to receive your child’s first book. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library processes the books about 6 weeks before mailing them because Penguin Books USA prints books specifically for this program every month.  Here is a video that explains the process. 

My child stopped receiving books. What happened?

If your child recently turned five years old, they graduated from the program. Their last book should have been Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!

If you moved, please contact us and give us your new address. If your new address is still in Buncombe County, we can update the system and you should receive your next book at your new address in 6-8 weeks. If your new address is outside of Buncombe County, we will attempt to transfer your registration to an affiliate serving your new community. 

Please contact us if neither of these are true and your child has not received a book in over a month.