Dolly Parton Imagination Library is coming to the Valley area

Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

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The Circle of Care launched its partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. As the final event to highlight Child Abuse Prevention Month, the center hosted a kick-off event at their offices. 

“There’s been a big push across the state for reading. There’s been legislation that’s now being enacted that actually passed several years ago as far as third-grade reading levels,” said Johnathan Herston, the Center’s Executive Director, referring to Alabama’s Literacy Act.

The Literacy Act monitors children from Kindergarten through third grade, intervening if necessary to ensure students can read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. 

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“It starts early to get them reading in their homes. The research shows that by age five 90 percent of the brain is developed,” said Nichole McCants, a director with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. “Reading also supports families and it gives them that bonding time… So there’s many great benefits to having these books come into our children’s home every month, and the best part is that it’s free.”

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) is a national nonprofit that provides a free book every month through the mail for children up to age five. The Circle of Care will be the local partner, connecting the service to families in Chambers County. Herston said 259 families in the county have already registered to receive books. 

“This is the culmination of [Child Abuse Prevention] month for us. I’m really excited about this because… the best way to prevent child abuse is getting families doing positive things together,” said Adrian Carpenter, a program supervisor for the center. 

Carpenter added that he was surprised to find out how many kids in Alabama are not exposed to reading before entering school. In a talk on childhood literacy, a local doctor told Carpenter that the average child in Alabama starts school with five “age-appropriate” books in their home. 

“If you counted the family’s Bible as an age-appropriate book,” added Carpenter. 

The equitable education non-profit Better Basics found that 60 percent of low-income families do not have a single children’s book in their homes.

DPIL aims to get books in homes in the hope that families will read together. The families that have signed their children up have already received their first book, “The Little Engine That Could.” 

To sign a child or children up, go to the DPIL website: At the top right click “Check Availability.” After putting in the zip code and city, all parents or family members have to do is fill out a short registration form. Families can also register in person or by mail. For questions email the program coordinator, Kea Costley at

The mailing address will be in the child’s name, as Carpenter says, “Every child loves to get mail.”

Herston ended the event by saying that anyone wishing to support the long-term success of the literacy program can go to the Center’s website to donate. 

After the kickoff meeting, some of the staff headed over to Kiddie Kollege Preschool Daycare in Valley to read a story to the kids. Kea Costly, the program’s coordinator, read “Arthur the Brave” to a group of excited daycare kids. Flyers with sign-up information were also sent home with the kids.