Dolly presented an Alabama boy with the 25 millionth Imagination Library book
In 2010, racing across borders and gaining speed, "The Little Engine That Could," was chug chug chugging along, while the actual book itself arrived in mailboxes, much to the delight of 249,125 children under five. With over 1,300 operating programs in three countries, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was mailing 560,000 books a month, a grand total of 7.1 million this particular year.
In July, The Junior League of Birmingham, and Dolly herself presented the 25 millionth book to Kumar Smith.
"It was beautiful,"
mother Shalisha Stewart said of her family's experience.
"She sang Kumar a song, 'Celebrate the Dreamer in You.' She wrote it for him. He was like, 'She wrote me a song?' And I told him that he was the hero of the day."
Knox County Schools in Tennessee completed the year-long study of their new kindergartners, and in Michigan, the Great Start Collaborative commissioned a study by Michigan State University on the same age group. Children enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library performed better on all assessments than children who were not enrolled. In addition, the University of Alaska Anchorage researchers, completed evaluation studies of Imagination Library demonstrating that children participating in the program are more enthusiastic about reading, read to more often, and perceived by parents to be better prepared for school. While the books are free to families, the lasting impact of the program is priceless.