No one can doubt the importance of books for children. Reading opens up the way for learning, feeds the imagination – which is so important for mental health – and boosts confidence. It’s no surprise that Dolly Parton hopes to be remembered for books rather than her looks. “Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission,” she says in her “Letter from Dolly” on the Imagination Library website. “In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children.” The Child Care Action Council is celebrating its one-year partnership with the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Thurston and Mason counties with their Early Adventure in Learning event on May 21, 2024, at South Puget Sound Community College.

young girl in a chair with a book with a bunch of books in a shelf behind her
This young girl loves getting a free book everything from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She is just one of thousands of Thurston County Kids getting books thanks to Child Care Action Council’s partnership. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Mason and Thurston Counties Reflects Need in Community

For their first year, the Child Care Action Council was modest in their goals – they hoped to register 20% of the eligible children in Thurston and Mason counties with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an estimated 2,556 children. Instead, the program serviced a total of 6,926 kids from March 2023 to March 2024. Currently, they have 4,893 children in Thurston County and 1,087 in Mason County in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. “These were our estimates for enrollment for late summer of 2026!” shares Gary Burris, executive director for Child Care Action Council.

These numbers show that kids in the Thurston and Mason counties area need and want books. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words, in this case, a thousand extra words may change a child’s future. “Low-income children hear 30 million fewer words by age five, contributing to the income achievement gap,” shares Tovi McClellan, Child Care Action Council’s family services director. “Child Care Action Council, through the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, addresses this by delivering free monthly books to children, building home libraries, and providing crucial early literacy opportunities. By removing economic and transportation barriers, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library significantly benefits under-served communities.”

Dolly Parton’s cut out has been travelling Thurston County, taking photos with Early Adventures in Learning sponsors, like Heritage Bank (pictured). Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

Strong reading skills are directly related to a child’s chances of graduating with their peers. Children from low-income families face multiple challenges that can make this even more difficult. Having books shouldn’t be one of them. According to Forbes, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of age-appropriate books is 1 for every 300 children, compared to 13 books for each child in middle-income neighborhoods. “Providing a free literacy program to those most at-risk helps not only these families but our whole community, as when we prioritize equitable opportunities, every child benefits,” says McClellan.

“We love the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program!” shares one parent. “My daughter and I get excited to receive a new book in the mail each month. The books we have gotten are some that we may not have thought to get and we have fun reading the books together. I am grateful for the opportunity for my daughter to love books and learn new things!”

An Evening of Fun Supports Child Care Action Council’s Important Book Program

In March 2024, the Child Care Action Council spent $6,350 on just the cost of books for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in our area. That number consistently climbs as more children are registered for the program. You can help by attending the Early Adventures in Learning event on May 21, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. at the South Puget Sound Community College Lacey Campus. The night serves as a celebration and a fundraiser to continue to supply books to local Thurston and Mason County youth. All monies raised will go toward funding the local Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton’s cutout in front of the Capital Business Machines building, another sponsor for the Early Adventures in Learning event on May 21, 2024. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

Enjoy incredible jazz music by well-known Eden Lane at the beginning of the evening, while you indulge in the scrumptious grazing table with full charcuterie boards provided by Lacey Graze Co. All your favorite appetizers will be there including meats, cheeses, breads and fruits. Each attendee will also have two drink tickets for a selection of wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

While you graze, check out the silent auction! There will be some fun and unique things up for grabs, including a water bubbler with installation; a $100 gift card to Whimsy Cakes; a gourmet Mediterranean dinner for 8 with local wine; Mariners tickets and parking; a Free Little Library starter kit complete with books; and a bundle of banned books! There will also be fine art, coffee and wine baskets and unique artwork. Be sure to look for the incredible Dolly Parton memorabilia that will be up for auction too!

The evening will also include programming so you can learn more about Child Care Action Council and the important work they do, including a video highlighting their programs. Child Care Action Council staff and Superintendent Reykdal will speak. Round out the night with more Eden Lane!

Purchase your tickets on the Child Care Action Council website.

“My daddy couldn’t read and write, but daddy was so smart, he could just do numbers in his head. But my daddy then after he was grown, he couldn’t read or write; he thought that it was just too hard to do,” Dolly shares. Help children in our area learn to read and enjoy doing it through the Child Care Action Council and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email