Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Knox County books arrive in the child's name and are theirs to keep, read and enjoy. We welcome every child from birth to age 5 in every Knox County family to participate. We encourage parents to enroll siblings so that each child can receive their own book in the mail.
Sowing seeds, growing readers—we need your help
Imagination Library is supported by our community—by foundations, corporations, grants, and individual donors like you! Consider making a donation today to help us grow Knox County's future readers.
- The Library that Dolly Built is a documentary that tells the story of the "little" program Dolly Parton began in her hometown and now delivers books to 1.7 million children worldwide every month—including nearly 20,000 here in Knox County.
- Celebrating 15 years! Emma Howard was one of the first children to register for the program 15 years ago. Watch the video about Emma and how Imagination Library has been a part of so many families over the past 15 years.
- The year 2020 brought many new things. In Knox County, we quietly celebrated a huge milestone for our program: we mailed our 3 millionth book! Read our story in the 2020 Annual Report.
Request a speaker or information
- If you'd like someone to speak to your community group or organization please call (865) 215-8784 or e-mail Danielle Velez at DVelez@knoxlib.org.
- Share the word about Imagination Library. We welcome you or your organization to join our community of people dedicated to early literacy! We are happy to send you brochures that you may distribute or use to enroll the children of Knox County in Imagination Library. To request brochures please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (865) 215-8784.
About Imagination Library
Who pays for the books?
Books are paid for by a variety of donations from foundations, corporations, grants and donors like you!
Knox County Imagination Library is administered through Knox County Public Library. Our local Board of Advisors raises funds for half the cost of books and mailing ($250,000 annually), promotes the program and registers children.
The Governor's Early Literacy Foundation covers the other half of books and mailing in all 95 Tennessee counties, and it serves local organizers by providing fundraising, public relations, and other support.
The Dollywood Foundation manages operational details of the program in over 1,200 communities, including book selection for the Library, price negotiation, and distribution logistics.
How it began
Dolly Parton knows that reading to young children is the best way to prepare them for school and for life. That's why she started the Imagination Library. In 1996, she began sending books in the mail to the young children of Sevier County regardless of their family's income. Since then, she and The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation have expanded the program to the entire state of Tennessee. In Knox County, we're very proud that more than 19,000 children look forward to receiving their book every month. That's 73% of eligible children in Knox County!
How does it work?
Step 1: Register
Parents must register each child under five in their family. Signing up online is the easiest and quickest way to enroll, or you may complete a paper registration form. Forms are available for download in English or Spanish, for pick up at any Knox County Public Library location, or call 215-8743 to request to have one mailed to you.
Step 2. Read
Reading with your child every day is one of the best ways to prepare him for success in school and in life. Your child's first book will arrive in 6-10 weeks. After the initial wait, your child will receive a book every month until he or she turns 5!
Step 3: Keep Your Address Updated
Parents must update their address each time they move. Books are not forwarded with the mail. Use our handy online change of address form or call 215-8743 to keep us posted with your most up-to-date contact information.
- Bonny Naugher, Chair
- Mary Pom Claiborne
- Zach Cochran
- Abby Ham
- Crissy Haslam*
- Angie Howell
- Dr. Joe Johnson*
- Rachel Kinney
- Adam Moore
- Matt Neilson
- Yvette Parker
- Beth Parks
- Clint Sattler
- Dr. Susan Scott
- Tom Shaw
- Kelly Taylor
- Paige Travis
- Chelsey Vaughn
- Tess Woodhull
*Honorary Lifetime Board Members
Ex Officio Member: Danielle Velez, Imagination Library Coordinator
Research and effectiveness
Studies show the impact that early exposure to books has on brain development. Through books, children learn about the world around them, shapes and colors, and letter recognition. They also learn to use their imaginations and to form stories and narratives that help them make sense of their young lives. But maybe the most important thing they learn while reading with their parents or caretakers is that they are valued and loved. When a child is read to, there’s a lot more going on than the important task of learning. Quiet time with a loved one creates a sense of belonging that lasts forever.
The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation authored a comprehensive analysis of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Tennessee. Three themes that emerged from the report were:
1) Children’s excitement upon receiving books
2) Expanded home literacy practices
3) Positive changes in the way parents spent time with their children
Read the study here:
If you have questions about your child's account, registration or address please contact Imagination Library Administrative Assistant, at 865-215-8743 or email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
With special thanks to
Haslam Family Foundation, Cornerstone Foundation, Dr. Joe and Pat Johnson, University Health Systems, Douglas Horne, Pete DeBusk, South College, Wes and Liz Stowers, and University of Tennessee Knoxville.