Smart Start Receives Funding to Expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Across NC

Lincoln & Gaston County, NC -- Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (Imagination Library) are working together to bring books to North Carolina’s youngest children through funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly. During the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina state lawmakers included $3.5 in the first year of the budget and $7 million in the second year for the Smart Start network to offer free, age-appropriate books through the Imagination Library to children across the state.

The Imagination Library is a program created to foster a love of reading among children aged birth to five through the gift of a specially selected book delivered right to their home each month. The mission of the program is to foster a love of reading in preschool children and ensure that every child born has books, regardless of their family’s income.

“I’m thrilled that my Imagination Library is going to be offered to so many children in North Carolina” stated Dolly Parton, the founder of Imagination Library. “Working together we can help children dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.”

Smart Start is a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serves all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families. “Our state leaders clearly understand how important an early love of reading is for each child's success in school and later in life,” stated Cindy Watkins, the President of NCPC that oversees the Smart Start network, “Smart Start works in every community to ensure young children have a strong foundation for starting kindergarten – now we can offer this important literacy program to that critical work.”

“The Partnership for Children of Lincoln and Gaston Counties has long promoted the importance of early literacy through community-based events, and we are excited to be part of this statewide expansion of the Imagination Library that will bring books to approximately 950 young children in Lincoln County,” said Michael Linker, Executive Director. The Partnership will partner locally with community organizations to assist in enrolling children birth to age 5 living in the following targeted zip codes in Lincoln County: 28092, 28033 & 28021 and in Gaston County: 28016, 28021, 28052, 28054, 28077 & 28101.

“Literacy begins at home. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is an investment that supports families reading together and will have a significant impact on the future success of children in our community,” according to Jennifer Sackett, Director of the Lincoln County Public Library. “The Library is committed to promoting early literacy so we are honored to help with this initiative in Lincoln County.”

“As the local Imagination Library affiliate, United Way of Gaston County is pleased to be working with the Partnership to further promote early literacy, reaching even more children in Gaston County with this exciting program,” said Deborah Ally, President, United Way of Gaston County.

The statewide effort will begin in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The initial launch will cover a majority of these counties, expanding to cover every county by the second year.

Click here to find out more about Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partnership, and to check availability and register a child. 

If you have questions about registering in Lincoln or Gaston County, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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