Suffolk welcomes Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Suffolk Public Library and Suffolk Early Childhood Development Commission have announced that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has finally arrived.

The program will deliver a hand-selected, age-appropriate and high-quality book each month to Suffolk children from birth through their fifth birthday. Voluntary and free for eligible participants, the program aims to support nearly 6,000 children annually with books delivered to their homes. First launched in 1995, the country music legend’s flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted over 200 million books with more than 3 million being mailed each month to help support literacy.

During Suffolk City Council’s work session held on Tuesday, July 2, Suffolk Director of Libraries Clint S. Rudy discussed the program further to council members.

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“So the goal of this is to get books into the hands of children with the idea that it will inspire literacy for them, but also encourage families to read together,” Rudy said. “This is a partnership with the Early Childhood Development Commission and the Suffolk Public Library. Funding is provided in the Early Childhood Development Commission’s budget with 50 percent of the costs coming from the state. Two years ago, the general assembly passed the bill and the Governor signed to provide 50 percent for any community that participated.”

Rudy further detailed that interested parents and caregivers can register on the official website for children from birth to age five. To qualify, a Suffolk resident must register. Each mailed book will be personalized each month, and braille and audiobook options will also be available.

“Each child receives the same book, so it’s kind of a community feel of everyone getting the same book every month, and those titles are listed on their website and they are chosen by Dolly Parton’s specific Blue Ribbon Committee that works with her foundation to choose the titles,” Rudy said.

Rudy detailed that the first book received would be a customized edition of the classic version of “The Little Engine That Could” with a letter from Parton welcoming kids to the program and encouraging them to continue reading. The last “graduation” book delivered on their fifth birthday, a customized edition of “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” includes another letter from Parton thanking kids for participating, encouraging them to continue reading and to enjoy school. Rudy noted that 500 Suffolk children have already signed up for the program.

When Vice Mayor Lue R. Ward asked if Suffolk could see Parton coming by for the Central Library’s grand opening, Rudy replied, “That would be great.”

To register or for more information, go to or