Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ravalli County is off to a great start despite the COVID-19 pandemic keeping them from having a big public launch with children, books and goodies to eat.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library ships a free book each month to every child who is registered. The only requirements are that children, ages birth to 5, must live in Ravalli County.
Nearly 500 children have already been registered since the program was announced in May and many of them have already begun receiving the free books that are mailed directly to their homes.
Syble Solomon, program coordinator, said the usual response from parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great-grandparents is that they are “thrilled” to have the program here in Ravalli County.
“More and more people are realizing reading even just one book a day can be life-changing for children,” Solomon said. “We already have 28 babies who just were born this year. Our youngest was only a week old when his parents registered him. He’ll have 60 books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library the time he starts kindergarten.”
Community support has made the program possible and Elks Lodge #1651 and Bitterroot Law provided the start-up funding.
“We were fortunate that Scott Burke, CEO, and Bob Whalen, president, of First Security Bank then stepped up to be our primary funder,” Solomon said. “Their generous donation allowed the program to be open to all of our county’s young children.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ravalli County has recently been the recipient of grants from the Rapp Foundation and the Jane S. Heman Foundation. Those funds, along with many private donations from individuals in the community, are providing a strong financial foundation.
Solomon said the community has helped to spread the word from Florence to Sula.
Trey Anthony, owner of the Mailman, has included an ad in multiple weekly fliers mailed to every residence in the county. The Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce, Head Start, the libraries and other organizations and individuals have announced the program and posted registration information on their websites or Facebook pages.
Parents need to provide the child’s name, birthdate and mailing address with their own contact information to begin getting books. It typically takes six to 10 weeks to get the first one.
All readers are encouraged to go to imaginationlibraryravallicounty.com to register their children and to share the information with others. Donations can also be made at that site.