Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Provides Free Books to Shawnee County Children Birth to 5 Years Old



(TOPEKA, KS) Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a free book program for children from birth to 5 years old, is now available in Shawnee County.

The Imagination Library mails a new, carefully selected book in the child’s name directly to their home once a month. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and United Way of Greater Topeka have joined together to make Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available to all children in Shawnee County to help prepare them for kindergarten.

On Wednesday, April 26, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library CEO Gina Millsap and United Way of Greater Topeka Interim CEO Carol Wheeler will announce the details of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in Shawnee County from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the Topeka Main Post Office, 42 S Kansas Ave. Topeka Postmaster Sheryl Stark will read to children from area childcare centers. Representatives from the Topeka Chapter of The Links, Inc., one of the donors to the Imagination Library, will also attend.

“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been shown to improve early childhood literacy for children in the program,” said Millsap. “Community donors underwrite the costs of the books and the postage for mailing the books to the child’s home. That’s 60 times a child will rush to the mailbox asking, ‘Is there something for me?’”

Reading to children from birth helps young brains develop language, vocabulary and other important cognitive skills. More than 60 percent of low income families have no age-appropriate books for children in their homes (Children’s Literacy Foundation). Only half of babies and toddlers are read to regularly (Reach Out and Read) —not just in low-income families, but across all incomes and educational levels.

“We are so very excited to partner with the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, U.S. Postal Service and many donors to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the children of Shawnee County,” said Wheeler. “This project supports the work done by us all to foster literacy skills and improve kindergarten readiness in our community.”

More than 500 individuals and organizations have helped make this initiative possible. With more than $300,000 raised, we will begin enrolling children in the Imagination Library. This effort is not only for today’s children, but for generations to come. Currently, it costs $25 to mail one year of books (12 books) to a child or $125 for five years of books (60 books) per child. The Library Foundation and United Way of Greater Topeka have a goal of raising $1 million to sustain this program that will help develop eager learners ready for kindergarten.

Parents can sign up their children ages birth to 5 years old for this program starting Wednesday, April 26 by visiting or Each child will start receiving books eight to 10 weeks after the registration form is received. Children will receive a book every month until they turn 5 or they move out of Shawnee County. Books are mailed to the address on the registration form. If the child’s address changes, parents must contact United Way of Greater Topeka with the new address as soon as possible.

The library is the Library Journal / Gale Cengage 2016 Library of the Year. We help transform the lives of citizens through Community Impact Goals: every child will be ready for kindergarten • everyone will discover their passion for learning • everyone will continue learning new ways to live their best life • Topeka & Shawnee County will be an engaged community of readers • the library will be a learning organization committed to excellence in: leadership, planning, customer focus, process management and partner focus.

About the United Way of Greater Topeka
Our Vision: Connected individuals and families maximizing their full potential.

Our Mission: To achieve positive sustainable change through education, financial stability and health for everyone in our community.

United Way brings together people, companies and nonprofits to focus on building a brighter future. United Way remains dedicated supporting Basic Needs including food, rent and utilities, health and prescription access and safety from domestic violence. For more than 80 years United Way of Greater Topeka has been improving and changing lives. Since 1980, United Way has invested more than $110 million into the community.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Diana Friend
(First point of contact)
& Marketing Director

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Donna Swaffar
United Way of Greater Topeka
Communications Manager
P: 785-273-4804

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