Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends free books to children worldwide

California is now the 15th state to take part in Dolly Parton’s program, taking after Texas, Florida and South Carolina

Dolly Parton has extended her Imagination Library to California, making it the 15th state to join the program.

Children under five in California will soon be eligible to receive one free book a month, thanks to the Tennessee-born singer.

The 76-year-old started the Imagination Library Program in her home county in 1995 to inspire a love of reading at a young age.

Dolly Parton performs on stage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW)

Now, the Californian Governor Gavin Newsom has signed the bill (SB 1183) into law which will see the program expand across the third largest state, starting from June 2023.

The Imagination Library Program will work with local partners in each of the 58 California counties to mail free, age-appropriate books to children under five every month.

California is now the 15th state to take part in Dolly Parton’s program, taking after Texas, Florida and South Carolina.

Dolly launched her Imagination Library in 1995, to help the children of her home county in East Tennessee and the first book order was just over 1700.

Dolly Parton performs during a concert to benefit Dolly's Imagination Library & Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation at The University of Tennessee's Thompson-boling Arena on May 28, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

In 2018, the 9 to 5 singer was honoured by the Library of Congress for the "charity sending out its 100 millionth book".

As of today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has sent over 190 million books to children around the world.

As well as the 15 states in the United States, areas in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland are also part of the program.

In December 2007, the Islands in the Stream singer travelled to London to celebrate the programme’s launch in the United Kingdom.

A group of school children gathered on the steps of the Savoy Hotel in the capital to sing Dolly’s I Believe in You.

The Imagination Library now works with over 200 affiliate partners to deliver more than 40,000 books every month to children living in communities across the UK.

The carefully selected books can include traditional stories and rhymes, books by beloved authors and illustrators, non-fiction content, and newly published titles.

Dolly has published a number of books herself, including novels co-written with James Patterson, cook books, biographies and children’s books.