Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

How would you like to start building your child’s home library for FREE?! No, this is not a gimmick and there are no strings attached!

Smart Start has partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to put free, age-appropriate books, into the hands of children birth to age five. After signing up through the simple online process (or by visiting Smart Start Rowan), your child will begin receiving one high-quality book each month up until their fifth birthday. Did I mention that it’s FREE!

What happens if I have multiple children under the age of five, you might ask? Sign all of them up for this fantastic early literacy program! The books that come each month are specific to the child’s age, so as your child grows, each month they will get a book that is appropriate for them. Each book is addressed to the child, so they will start to look forward to getting their own special book in the mail every month.

The quality of these books will not disappoint! Since signing my son up for the program right after he was born, we have received a variety of excellent books. The first book for every child, no matter their age, is “The Little Engine That Could”, which is a classic that should definitely be on every child’s bookshelf. Since then, we have received board books, lift-the-flap books, bilingual books, and even family favorites, such as “Llama Llama Red Pajama”.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will even accommodate for children who have special needs, such as those who are hard of hearing or blind. Braille copies as well as audiobooks are available for families that need them, for no additional cost! How amazing is that?!

You may be wondering if there are any income requirements in order to be approved for the Imagination Library. Nope! Part of Dolly Parton’s vision when she created this program was that children would foster a love for reading, regardless of a family’s income. All families who live in the participating coverage areas are eligible to receive these free books. Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a two-year budget plan that will allow for statewide expansion of the Imagination Library through Smart Start, whereas previously only limited areas with local partnerships could qualify.

Smart Start Rowan helps promote awareness of the program and enrolls children who qualify by their age. They contribute a little over $2 per child, per month to cover wholesale and mailing costs of the books. Thanks to local partnerships, such as our own Smart Start Rowan, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library distributes over 1 million books each month to children all over the world!

So, if you have a child or know of someone with a child under the age of five, check out Smart Start’s website for more information and to check to see if you are eligible. Share with all of your mama friends and don’t forget those soon-to-be mamas too!

Smart Start – Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Be sure to check back in each Monday for more tips and tricks from a fellow Mama Bear!


Katie Zink Miller

CBRS/Developmental Play Therapist