Helping Children Read – Imagination Library

Helping Children Read - Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Dolly Parton

Many people talk about the problems in America today, especially those of children who grow up in poverty. However, few people do anything about those problems. Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter, and movie actress who grew up in very poor conditions in east Tennessee. She saw that her father’s inability to read or write held him back and she set out to do something about helping children read.

Ms. Parton did very well in the entertainment world and has used her money in constructive ways. In 1995 she started a program called Imagination Library in which she offered free age-appropriate books to every child in her home county. Every child received a free book each month until they were five years old with no strings attached. The program caught on and has spread throughout the United States, The United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Over 2.5 million children have received 211 million books through the program. United Way and the Lenawee Community Foundation distribute the books here in southern Michigan.

Studies on child development have shown that the most critical time is between 0 and 3 years old. The Imagination Library has had spectacular success in motivating and helping children read. One of the problems in teaching people what the Bible says is that a significant percentage of our population cannot read or don’t like to read. We can change that by helping a child learn to love books by developing reading skills at a young age. There have been other approaches where Christians teach reading using the Bible as a text.

One way to attack the problems in America is to develop a desire to read in every citizen. Many people who can’t read must rely on others to tell them what the Bible says, leaving them prone to misunderstandings.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

You can learn more about the Imagination Library at