Waco Moms and Dads, please join me in giving a big virtual hug to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Waco.
Everyone loves Dolly. She’s so lovely, isn’t she? She throws joy around like it’s meant to be. And now Waco has one more big reason to adore her. Excited doesn’t do justice to how I feel about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Waco.
The Imagination Library delivers book-love each month to registered children from birth to age five. And now, many of Waco’s children benefit from the deliveries, also!
The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Waco delights children and gifts picture books to the children of Waco. (starting in early 2021) The program mails free, high-quality books to children—no matter their family’s income.
Right now, The Imagination Library of Waco provides books to children living in zip codes 76701, 76704, 76707, 76710, and 76711, with hopes to expand to new zip codes soon.
This program is incredibly close to my heart because I write children’s books and am in the process of getting published. I live and breathe picture books.
Children’s books are pure magic and are essential in the growing-up process. Reading picture books to your children helps them physically, emotionally, socially, and we all know reading at bedtime helps children go night-night.
Kevin and Dr. Noelle Baker of Waco know the benefit of reading and know about Dolly Parton’s generosity. So they researched, dreamed, and envisioned this program for Waco’s children.
“We first thought about bringing it to Waco in June 2020,” explains Kevin Baker.
He continues, “With COVID disrupting normal activities and the anxiety surrounding the election, we want to bring something good to the community.”
Kevin was born in Tennessee, and Noelle did her residency at Knoxville’s University of Tennessee Medical Center. Living in Tennessee, the two were both familiar with the program.
“We saw what a well-loved and beneficial program it was to the communities there. We looked into it and realized that this was a program that can be set up by local organizations, and we thought that this was something we could effectively implement.”
Kevin and Noelle started thinking about funding immediately and spoke with family and friends, several of whom were willing to help them get the program up and running.
“We have $100,000 pledged over the next five years.”
And with donations received, we are hoping to open to more zip codes as soon as possible.
Waco is lucky to have two people who care about children and reading. And while this sounds like a generous amount of money, much more is needed.
Want to help us? Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram to receive the latest news about Waco’s newest book program. And please help us spread the news to Waco, so parents who live in the zip codes can sign their children up for the program.
On Monday, December 9, Dollywood and Abramorama, in association with The Dollywood Foundation, have partnered to release “The Library That Dolly Built,” This documentary film takes a behind-the-scenes glance at Dolly Parton’s literacy-focused non-profit and will air on Facebook.
The Facebook premier benefits the Imagination Library affiliates, including Waco.
“We opened enrollment in December, and our first book delivery happened in February,” Kevin explains.
Individuals can register their children online and in-person at several community partners, including Ascension Providence Labor & Delivery, Waco-McLennan County libraries, and Waco-area doctors’ offices.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Waco Board Members are Kevin Baker, Dr. Noelle Baker, Nelson Castro, Dedra Davis, Courtney Scheaf, and Kate Whalen.
According to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the program since launching in 1995 has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program globally. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted well over 140 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.7 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The program’s impact has been widely researched, and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com.