Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library®

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library impacts the pre­-literacy skills and school readiness of children under the age of 5 in Buncombe County. The program mails a new, free, age-appropriate book to registered children each month until they turn five years old. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library creates a home library of up to 60 books and instills a love of books and reading from an early age.

A national panel of educators selects the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library titles, which include: The Little Engine that Could, Last Stop on Market Street, Violet the Pilot, As an Oak Tree Grows, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and many more.

Program Launch and Expansions

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County became a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library affiliate in November 2015 with support from the Buncombe Partnership for Children. Through this program, registered children in Buncombe County receive a free book in the mail each month. Their parents also have the opportunity to attend workshops to learn how to build their children’s early literacy skills. Parents in need of literacy assistance are encouraged to receive tutoring through the Literacy Council’s adult programming.

The program served 200 children during the 2015/16 fiscal year. The program expanded to serve 400 children in July 2016, and 600 in August 2017. In July 2018, capacity increased to 1,900 thanks to a special allocation in the North Carolina state budget. Interested families may click here to learn more about signing up for the program.

Giving Kids a Head Start

According to the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. The key is to start reading to them at birth.

Harvard University pediatrician Jack Shonkoff puts it this way, “brains are built, not born.” Our brains are biologically prepared to be shaped by experiences. So early learning experiences determine learning capacities, behaviors, and even our health.

Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single­ most important activity leading to language development. Among other things, reading aloud builds word­/sound awareness, a potent predictor of reading success.

 “The Imagination Library was designed to help children dream more, learn more, care more, and be more, and by golly, it’s really working,” said Dolly Parton. Parton started the program 20 years ago in her hometown of Sevierville, TN.

“Back in the hills of Tennessee, illiteracy was a real problem,” she said. “I saw firsthand the lifelong struggles that resulted for many of my friends and neighbors.”

“It really affected me, and ever since that time it’s been my dream for every child to have a library of books that their parents can read to them from, from the time they’re born until they start school.”

That dream has become a global reality. Today, the Imagination Library has replications in 1,600 communities in 4 countries. The program now mails over 1.1 million books each month to children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Registering Your Child

You can sign your child up for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library if they are under the age of five and live within Buncombe County, excluding the Swannanoa, Black Mountain, and Montreat zip codes. If your child lives in Swannanoa, Black Mountain, or Montreat, click here to sign up for the program through the Black Mountain Rotary Club.

To sign your child up for the program,

Download the registration form – English      or     Download the registration form – Spanish

If at all possible, please include your phone number and email address on the registration form. We will use this to periodically confirm your mailing address, survey the program’s outcomes, and provide you with special resources to go with your new books. We do not share your contact information with anyone else.

Once completed, either email this form to or mail it to:

Literacy Council of Buncombe County attn: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library 31 College Place Suite B-221 Asheville, NC 28801

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions.

$25 Sponsors a Child

A donation of $25 covers the cost of one child in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for one year. This amount funds a child’s books and postage. With community support, the Literacy Council seeks to grow the program and make it available to even more children.

Make a secure donation online to sponsor a child in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for one year.