First child signs in Polk for Imagination Library

Published 5:57 pm Monday, March 31, 2014



Ernestine Lewis, project manager (at right), assists Kali Littlejohn with enrolling her one-year-old daughter, Kayah Carson-Littlejohn, as the first participant in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Polk County. Kayah will start receiving a free book each month until her fifth birthday. See article page 5. (photo by Leah Justice)

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


Partnership for Children of the Foothills is beginning a new project for Polk County children through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library where children enrolled will receive a free book once a month.

The program began for Polk County children age birth to five years on March 26.

Kali Littlejohn was the first to enroll her one-year old daughter, Kayah Carson-Littlejohn in Polk County’s program.

Kayah will start receiving a free book each month in the mail and will continue receiving a free book monthly until she turns five years old.

“There are approximately 930 birth to five-year-olds in Polk County and we’re excited about being able to fund this project to help young children have a library of high quality books of their very own,” said Cathy Brooks, Director of Program and Planning for the Partnership for Children of the Foothills.

Partnership for Children of the Foothills was able to start the program with Smart Start funds. The only eligibility requirements for children enrolling in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library are that the child must reside in Polk County and the child must be in the birth to five-year-old age range.

Parents can begin enrolling their children immediately.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was developed in 1995 for Parton’s native Sevier County, Tenn.

Parton said she wanted every preschool child to have his/her own collection of books. Parton later decided to replicate her imagination library in any community that would financially support it.

Each month, from the day the child is born until his/her fifth birthday, a carefully selected book arrives in the mail.

The imagination library is currently available in 1,100 communities in three countries, including the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

More than 560,000 children each month receive books through the generosity of local sponsors and the Dollywood Foundation.

In 2010, 25 million books had been delivered.

To learn more about the imagination library visit

“Research suggests that participation in the program is significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development and has an impact on kindergarten readiness by increasing young children’s access to early literacy materials,” Brooks said.

Partnership for Children of the Foothills is a nonprofit organization which merged from three separate Smart Start partnerships from Polk, McDowell and Rutherford counties.

For more information and enrollment into the program in Polk County, parents and guardians can call Ernestine Lewis, project manager, at 828-817-7901.