How to Get Free Kids’ Books From Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library | Lifehacker


There are plenty of reasons to love Dolly Parton. In addition to being one of the best singer-songwriters of all time, she is a fashion icon, a feminist, and a philanthropist. Her charitable contributions even helped fund the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine. All this and she sends free books to kids?

Yes, the country star and namesake of the Dollywood theme park is also the founder of the non-profit Imagination Library. The program, which aims to provide free books to children ages five and under, was inspired by Parton’s father, who was unable to read or write she was growing up—fueling the singer’s own commitment to literacy. 

Once you register your eligible child for the program, you will begin receiving one free book each month, shipped to your home, through their fifth birthday (up to 60 books total). According to the organization’s website, since 1995 it has donated nearly 227 million books to children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia, with over 29 million given out last year alone.

Signing your kids up for this service is a relative breeze. There are no complicated requirements, other than meeting the age criteria and residing in an area served by the program. Read on to discover how your family can participate.

How to sign up for the Imagination Library

To get free books from Dolly Parton (or rather, her charitable foundation), you’ll first have to see if the Imagination Library is in your community. Start by visiting the organization’s availability page. Once there, choose your country and enter your zip code. 

If the program is available in your area, you’ll have to submit your mailing address and some personal information (name and age) about your child on the next page. If online isn’t your thing, contact your local affiliate to sign them up directly. (If a program isn’t available where you live, the website will prompt you to join a mailing list so you know if and when that changes.)

As noted, income is not a factor in participating in Dolly Parton’s book club program, so every child can participate, regardless of a family’s financial situation. As long as an affiliate is in your area, you can enroll your child.

What books will I get?

Enrolling your child in the Imagination Library from birth means you’ll receive up to 60 different books—one for each month of your child’s life, from birth through their fifth birthday. The books selected will change monthly, but the first and last books are always the same: Each child begins the program with the classic The Little Engine That Could and wraps up with Kindergarten, Here I Come!

According to the organization, the books you’ll receive will be age-appropriate and promote diversity, self-confidence, and the importance of the arts. They are also available in audio and braille formats for children with hearing or visual impairments. Past selections have included Last Stop At Market StreetPeter Rabbit, and The Big Book.

What if there isn’t an Imagination Library affiliate in my area?

If there’s no Imagination Library in your area, you can do the work to establish an Imagination Library affiliate.

To begin, you will need to find ways to financially cover the wholesale cost of the books, as well as the cost of mailing them, which you can do through fundraising or seeking partnerships. The books are mailed at special non-profit mailing rates, so you will also need to find a non-profit partner, such as a school district or charitable foundation, to qualify for these rates.

If you’re ready to get started, click here for more tips on getting your Imagination Library affiliate off the ground and more books into the hands of kids.