• Rep. Josh Dobson speaks at a press conference Friday, Oct. 20, at Spruce Pine Fire Department announcing the expansion of the Imagination Library in North Carolina.
    Rep. Josh Dobson speaks at a press conference Friday, Oct. 20, at Spruce Pine Fire Department announcing the expansion of the Imagination Library in North Carolina.

Imagination Library going statewide

$10 million provided to give books to young children

SPRUCE PINE – Its North Carolina roots are in Mitchell County and this past Friday at the Spruce Pine Fire Department an announcement was made that Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are working together to bring books to North Carolina’s youngest children through funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.

During the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year of the budget and $7 million in the second year for the Smart Start network to offer free books through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children across the state.

“I am struck by the beauty and powerful simplicity of the Imagination Library,” said Jennifer Simpson, executive director of the Blue Ridge Partnership for Children. “In so many homes there are not only no children’s book, but there is nothing to read at all.”

Imagination Library is a program created to foster a love of reading among children from birth to 5 years old through the gift of a selected book delivered to their home each month.

“I’m thrilled that my Imagination Library is going to be offered to so many children in North Carolina,” said Dolly Parton, founder of Imagination Library in a video message. “Working together we can help children dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”

The first child was registered for Imagination Library in 2006 and until the allocation of funding by the North Carolina Legislature the program relied heavily on donations and volunteers. At the 2016 Child Fest at Mitchell High School, the 100,000th book was given out by the Imagination Library, which began its presence in North Carolina in Mitchell County.

“Reading and books capture children’s imaginations, and these books make a tremendous difference in our community in the long term,” said Pat Danahy, Board Chair of the NC Partnership for Children/Smart Start. “We could not be more excited for what is about to happen.”

State Sen. Ralph Hise and state Rep. Josh Dobson joined Smart Start and Imagination Library representatives at the press conference. The statewide initiative begins in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Because the program is offered by zip code, the initial launch covers 85 percent of the state’s zip codes and will expand to cover every county by the second year.

Visit www.smartstart.org/dolly-partons-imagination-library/ to find out more about Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partnership or to check availability and register a child.

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
Fax: 828-765-1616