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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

We’re an Imagination Library affiliate!
Dolly’s vision will bring books to kids in the Estes Valley.

Imagination Library Comes to Town
FAQs & Sign-up

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library comes to the Estes Valley

by Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian, and Kelly Pemrick, local Imagination Library Coordinator

Melanie Kozlowski and Kelly Pemrick

Just last week, it became official. Our Library is now an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. Dolly’s amazing vision is ready to bring books, joy and learning into the homes, hands, and hearts of every child under 5 in our mountain valley. Picture a child’s delight in discovering a brand-new high-quality book—with their name—mailed to them each month

We adults know Dolly as a renowned singer, songwriter, actress, producer, businesswoman, humorist, and humanitarian. Our newest generation will know Dolly as perhaps the world’s most famous librarian. 

Growing up, Dolly Parton remembers being “dirt poor.” Her father was hard-working, but tough circumstances never gave him the opportunity to read or write. Many years later, Dolly was motivated to make sure kids have access to books in the way she wished her father could have had. In 1995, she started the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee.

“We just started this in my home county,” she remembers. “We thought, ‘Well, maybe if we’re lucky it might go a couple counties over.’”

Dolly Parton reads “Coat of Many Colors,” the one hundred millionth book donated by Parton’s nonprofit Imagination Library, during a ceremony in the Great Hall, February 27, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

By 2000, the program was so successful it was being replicated nationwide. Today, it has mailed well over a million books to kids in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and the U.K.

Thanks to this inspiring program, we’re ready to sign up every local child under five—including newborns. Those are vital years: 90% of all brain structure development takes place before age 5. Kids who aren’t read to hear only around 4,600 words. Kids who are read to daily have heard almost 300,000.

Once kids are signed up, they’ll start getting high-quality books matched to their age level. The books are carefully chosen by a panel of learning experts. And the first book they receive is always “The Little Engine that Could”. 

It’s a perfect fit for the Library’s mission and Operating Plan, with its strong focus on local childhood literacy.

There is no cost to families. The local program is made possible by two sources: 50% from Imagination Library Colorado (with funding from the State of Colorado) which has provided us tremendous guidance and encouragement. Another 50% is from a generous anonymous local donor, who worked with our Library Friends & Foundation to pursue this passion.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this is one of the most precious things,” says Dolly Parton. “If you’re lucky and fortunate enough to be in a position to help, you should help.”

We are so honored to expand the footprint of Dolly’s vision to our special corner of the world. All local kids under 5 are eligible for this program: Sign Up Here

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in the Estes Valley: FAQs

Click Here to go to the sign-up page

What is the story behind this amazing program?

Dolly Parton’s father never learned to read, and when she was growing up she witnessed how huge the impact of illiteracy was on his life. Inspired by this experience, Dolly decided to make sure the children in her community had more access to books than her father had as a child.  In 1995, she started the Imagination Library program in Sevier County, Tennessee where she grew up. By 2000 it was so successful that they began working to replicate it on a national level. By 2003, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had mailed one million books. It is now in five countries.

Is my child eligible to be signed up?

Do you have a child under 5 living in the Estes Valley? We’ll happily sign them up to receive a high quality, developmentally appropriate book in the mail (USPS)–one book each month! Your cost: nothing! Your child will receive books until their fifth birthday when they graduate from the program. Their first book (called the welcome book) is always The Little Engine That Could. Their last book, sent when they turn five, is always Look Out Kindergarten Here I come!

May I sign up my newborn?

Absolutely! Babies in arms may not be able to form words, but their minds are developing. A child is never too young to be read to.

What if I have several children under five? May they each sign up?

Yes — we love for each child to receive their own books — so they can experience the joy of a book with their name in the mailbox! AND the books are different, based on the year the child was born –making sure each book is developmentally appropriate for their age. This means that siblings who are different ages will receive different books. Their first book, however, will always be The Little Engine That Could regardless of their age. So siblings will each receive a copy of the same welcome book and then receive books based on their respective age groups after that. Twins will receive the same book each month. 

How is the program funded?

The local program is made possible by two sources: 50% from Imagination Library Colorado (funded through the State of Colorado), which has provided us tremendous guidance and encouragement. Another 50% is from a generous anonymous local donor, who worked with our Library Friends & Foundation to pursue this passion.

How can I sign up my child?

Join us for the Launch Celebration at the Library on Friday, May 20 from 11 AM to 1 PM (right after storytime). We’ll be excited to sign up your children! We’ll also have kids’ activities and live music, including the original song “Dolly Do” by local band Lost Penny. No sign-up necessary to attend the celebration. EVERYONE is invited!

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An Evening with Craig Johnson

Author of the bestselling Longmire series in Estes Park June 17. Join the Library Friends & Foundation as a Library Lover for a complimentary ticket.

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Early Literacy: learning begins at birth

Parents and caregivers, we’ve got you covered! Learn about resources with Early Literacy Librarian Melanie Kozlowski.

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Estes Grows Readers

Celebrating early childhood literacy, as we build a bright future for all local kids.
April is the Month of the Young Child.

Resources for Early Childhood

Estes Grows Readers: building a bright future for all local kids

by Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian

Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian

We all want kids to be happy and healthy. We want them to thrive in school—get good grades. Twenty years from now, we want to live in a world with high graduation rates, low crime, and young people poised to achieve their dreams.

What we do today can secure that future. Studies show that supporting the learning and literacy of our youngest kids today is one of the surest paths to that tomorrow. After all: consider the amazing fact that 90% of all human brain structure development takes place before the age of five!

April is the Month of the Young Child—our chance to celebrate and spotlight the local resources to ensure that brighter future. Early childhood literacy is key.

Parents and caregivers, we know your days are busy—downright hectic. That’s why we’ve got programs and resources to save you time, reduce stress, and keep those kiddos happy. Here are a few ways the Library is making it easy to bring the magic of reading into a kid’s life—and stimulate their fullest cognitive development.

Drop in for Library Storytimes. Each week, kids enjoy stories, songs, puppets, and playtime to stimulate their minds. Along with Thursday/Friday/Saturday morning sessions, check out Pajama Storytimes on Wednesday evenings, including a monthly sing-along with local music therapist Nancy Bell.

Show a kid to their room: the Children’s Room! Kids love picking out their own books to take home. We make it easy and fun. There are “board books”—for reading aloud to infants—durable enough for babies to touch and grab. Next, “early readers”, with lots of pictures and very simple words. For new readers, we have rows of picture books, at eye-level for kids to browse.

Discovery Packs: play-time for the brain. We make it convenient to take exciting new activities home: puppets to act out stories, memory games for wordplay, sensory activities for counting and color recognition. Hours of kid-friendly stimulation—the kind that keeps them learning and growing.

“How-To Manuals” for Parents. Being a parent doesn’t come with printed instructions, but we make it easy to access the best research. Browse the Parenting Section for ideas, inspiration, and innovation from trusted experts.

Build a Kid’s Home Library. Studies show that having books inside a child’s home is a likely indicator of lifelong success. Parents, we’ve got you covered here too! That includes:

We thank the generous donors of the Library Friends & Foundation for making these visionary projects possible.

Come join the kick-off to this special month at this Saturday’s 11 AM Wagon Parade for all ages. What we do today can make all the difference for our kids.