Dolly Parton's Imagination Library now serves Oklahoma County. Here's what we know.
In the latest expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library for the Sooner state, children in the state's largest county and school district are now eligible to receive free books from birth through age five.
For the second time in two months, Parton's program is expanding in Oklahoma. In September, children of families served by the Pioneer Library System gained access to the program.
What is Dolly Parton's Imagination Library?
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a program created by the Tennessee-based country music legend aimed at increasing early childhood literacy. Parton said in a letter on the program's website that she was inspired by growing up in rural Tennessee and her own father's struggles with reading.
"He was the smartest man I have ever known, but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams," Parton wrote. "Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission. In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children."
The program's goal is "inspiring a love of reading by gifting books each month to children from birth to age five, free of charge through funding shared by local community partners," according to the website. The program has served children around the world, mailing more than 190 million books since its launch in 1995.
More:Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to offer free books to kids every month in Oklahoma
In May, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister committed to statewide access and coverage through the program, making Oklahoma the 12th state to do so. Hofmeister announced a plan for investing $2.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to expand to all 77 counties in Oklahoma.
Who is eligible to participate in the Imagination Library book program?
The latest expansion of the project extends access to families with children under the age of five "who reside either full-time or part-time at an address within Oklahoma County." Parents can register their children to receive one free book per month, by mail, until their fifth birthday.
It comes as a partnership between the Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma City Public Schools and the state.
"When we have stronger readers, we have stronger students. Stronger students have greater outcomes," said Larry White, Metropolitan Library System executive director at an event announcing the expansion.
The Metropolitan Library System notes the following towns have seperate sponsorship from other community partners for their programs:
Midwest City & Del City - Programming for families in Midwest City and Del City is being sponsored by the York Family Foundation.
Luther & Jones - Programming for families in Luther and Jones is being sponsored by the Read With Me Foundation.
More:Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to provide free books to some Oklahoma children
How do I register a child to receive books from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library?
Those interested in registering for the program can visit the Imagination Library website, or the Metropolitan Library System website to sign-up or get more information.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma County children added to Dolly Parton's free book project