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Dolly Parton program will help provide books to early readers across Oklahoma

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma children will soon be able to read free books thanks to the expansion ofDolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced Tuesday the state is strengthening its relationship with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The State Department of Education will use $2.5 million worth of federal COVID-19 relief funds to expand the program to all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.

The program is the brainchild of legendary country singer Dolly Parton.

Parton’s Imagination Library sends one book a month to children until they’re five years old. Local affiliates help send the books, and the state will provide the $2.5 million in matching funds for them to operate.

“I’m so excited to be working with Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education to bring my Imagination Library to Oklahoma,” Parton said in a news release. “Together, let’s inspire a love of reading and learning in every child in Oklahoma.”

To date, the Imagination Library has mailed more than 178 million free books to children worldwide.

The ultimate goal of the expansion is to help early readers improve their skills, Hofmeister said.

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted inwell-documented learning disruptions. The impacts on our youngest learners are particularly troubling and appear to be most severe among our most vulnerable student populations,” Hofmeister said in a news release. “These challenges underscore the need for robust early literacy interventions to help our get kids back on track.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Dolly Parton, one of the world’s most noted supporters of early literacy, to help our kids build critical literacy skills before they ever step foot in Pre-K.”

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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