Focus On… Education

Photos courtesy of Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

If you haven’t heard of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, prepare to be impressed by the charitable endeavors of the country music icon. For nearly 30 years, her nonprofit has gifted two million free books to the tiniest readers, establishing another moniker for Dolly: “The Book Lady.”

Each month, from birth until age 5, DPIL mails registered families a free children’s book to their homes. The program starts with The Little Engine That Could welcome book and ends with Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! upon the child’s graduation to “big kid.”

Find an Imagination Library Partner

To get in on the action, families must live in the area of a local affiliate, typically a library district, nonprofit organization, or foundation. One such affiliate in Colorado is Highline Electric Association, with offices in northeastern Colorado. HEA paid the startup funds and advertised to get the program running, starting in Phillips County, according to HEA Member Services Specialist Jessie Heath.


Today, DPILs in HEA’s territory are mailing books to 747 kids each month. “Highline Electric is proud to help bring this wonderful program to some of our youngest members as well as other children throughout our territory,” Heath said.

Leaving a Legacy

DPIL launched in 1995 in Dolly’s hometown in Sevier County, Tennessee, and grew to the enterprise it is today. It expanded across the United States (including Native American communities) and then to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. The program also started offering audio and braille books in 2011.

“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done,” Parton wrote in a letter posted on the DPIL website. “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known, but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.”

More Information About Imagination Library

Learn more about DPIL by visiting and While you’re at it, check out the documentary titled “The Library That Dolly Built” to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the program. See the trailer at