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Krista: [00:00:00] This is Secret Mom Hacks episode number 28. My name is Krista, and I am your host. It's August 16th, 2023, and I'm really excited about today's episode, because it involves two of my favorite topics.

We're talking through a really exciting program that brings the joy of reading to children all around the world. And it was founded by the queen of country music. Yes, we're covering all of the details about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. But before we dive into what it is, how it works, and some of my daughter's favorite books that she's received from Dolly, I just want to say thanks for tuning in mama.

I started this podcast because babies don't come with instructions. As of this recording, I am chasing around a five year old that no amount of googling mom groups or what to [00:01:00] expect books were able to prepare me for. There's a lot of stuff people don't talk about when it comes to pre pregnancy, during pregnancy, and postpartum.

And as someone who was previously terrified of all of the above, I'm here to help you pull back the curtain on all of it. And every now and then, it may get a little messy, we may share a little TMI, but that's why you're here, right? My goal is you'll leave every episode feeling refreshed, inspired, and hopeful knowing you're not on this mom journey alone.

Now there's a lot of subject matter to cover when it comes to mom life, and we are covering it all. Okay, let's talk about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. From 2015 until February of this year, I was fortunate to work as a publicist in the country music industry.

The organization I worked for is a trade association for professionals in the country music space. And several times during my tenure with this company, we had [00:02:00] the incredible honor and privilege to work with Dolly on several shows and projects. Naturally being on the media and communications team, we received her bio and got up to speed on all of her various projects, one of which was her imagination library.

Now at this particular time, I wasn't a mom yet. But I filed away this info in the back of my mind so that when I did have a kiddo, it was something I'd remember to sign us up for. So fast forward a few years, I find out I'm pregnant, I hear a Dolly Parton song on one of my playlists one day while I'm headed to work, and I remember, IMAGINATION LIBRARY, SIGN UP!

So I did, and every month since my daughter was born, she's received a free book in the mail from Dolly. Now my daughter just turned five, so about a month ago we got her last Dolly book. It was a book all [00:03:00] about going to kindergarten, so it was very timely and relevant. That's a little bit about our experience with the Imagination Library.

I'm going to jump into a little more. Later, about some of our favorite books that my daughter's received, but let's rewind just a little bit and cover the what, why, and how of this exciting program. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a program that aims to foster a love for reading in children from birth to the age of five.

It was founded by iconic country singer, philanthropist, and literacy advocate Dolly Parton in 1995. The program provides free books to children every month delivered straight to their homes, which has been Awesome, by the way, so you might be wondering why is this program so special and why should I sign up for it?

Well, first and foremost the imagination library offers an incredible opportunity For [00:04:00] children to start building their own personal libraries at a young age Every month, a carefully selected book is mailed directly to the child, tailored to their age and development stage. By the time a child reaches the age of five, they will have received a collection of 60 books, which they can cherish and revisit throughout their lives.

But it's not just about having a bookshelf full of stories. The Imagination Library encourages children and their families to engage in reading together. And that's really been one of my favorite things. I grew up loving books and still as an adult I love reading whether it's books or magazines or whatever it is.

I have such a love for reading and I'm so happy that with the help of Dolly I've been able to foster this love for reading as well in my daughter. So this program fosters this bonding experience as parents or guardians read [00:05:00] to their children creating memories that will last a lifetime. One of my favorite things about our story time every night, my daughter, I'll say, I'll kind of check the clock and see how much time we have before she really should be in bed.

Sometimes I'll just have to say, honey, I just have time for one story tonight. And so we'll get through that story, and so many times she'll say, Mommy, Mommy, can we just do one more? And she often picks one of her favorite Dolly books. But this program, it recognizes the immense impact reading has on a child's development, language skills, and imagination.

Additionally, the books chosen for the Imagination Library are carefully curated to be both educational and entertaining. They cover a wide range of topics from classic fairy tales to stories about diversity, friendship, and adventure. These books open doors to new [00:06:00] worlds, stimulate curiosity, and encourage creativity in young minds.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Imagination Library is that it's completely free of charge. Anyone who participates in the Imagination Library, you don't have to pay a dime. It is completely free of charge for all participating families. Dolly's vision was to ensure that every child, regardless of their economic background, has access to high quality books.

Through partnerships with local communities, businesses, and sponsors, the program is sustained and continues to expand, not just nationally, not just across the U. S., But it continues to expand worldwide. Signing up for the imagination library is a simple process. You just. Visit their official website, find the program in your local community, and once registered you will start receiving books for your child every month.

It's [00:07:00] that easy. It's super simple. And believe me, the joy and excitement your kiddo will experience when they receive their very own special package in the mail from Dolly Parton, it's truly priceless. So why should every kid sign up for Dolly's Imagination Library? Well, it's an opportunity to instill a love for reading from an early age to promote family bonding through storytelling, as I've mentioned, and to nurture a child's imagination and creativity.

These are qualities that will benefit them throughout their entire lives, academically, socially and personally. And remember, reading is not just about words on a page. It's about exploring new worlds. expanding horizons and developing a lifelong passion for learning. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is making that possible for countless children and you can be part of that incredible journey.

I [00:08:00] do want to dive just a little bit deeper into the signup process for the imagination library because the requirements may vary depending on the specific region or community where the program is available. However, there are a few general guidelines that are typically followed. You can find all of the details on their website, which is www.

imaginationlibrary. com. And then here are the common requirements for a child to enroll in the program. Age. So the program is usually open to children from birth up to the age of five. Some regions may have specific age restrictions or eligibility criteria, so it is best to check with the local program in your area.

Residence. The child must reside in an area where the Imagination Library program is available. The program operates in various communities across the United States, Canada, the United [00:09:00] Kingdom, and other countries. And the availability can vary, so it's important to verify if the program is offered in your specific location.

Registration. So a parent, guardian, or caregiver must complete the registration process on behalf of the child. This typically involves providing basic info about the child, including their name, birth date, and mailing address. Consent. By signing up for the Imagination Library, the parent or guardian agrees to receive books on behalf of the child and allows the program to collect and use the provided personal information for program related purposes.

Local program. Each region may have its own local program coordinator or organization overseeing the Imagination Library. So for example, We're in Tennessee. We're just outside of Nashville, and it actually looks like our local imagination library program is Managed by the local United Way [00:10:00] chapter. Hope I'm not misspeaking, but that's what it looks like here so chances are a another organization similar to that or another Individual affiliated with some type of program like that may represent the imagination library where you live.

But it's important to connect with the local program to understand their specific requirements and any additional steps needed for enrollment. It's worth noting that the exact requirements and enrollment process can vary. So definitely recommend that you visit the official website. of Dolly's Imagination Library or reach out to the local program in your area for accurate and up to date info on how to enroll your child.

And ultimately the goal of the Imagination Library is to make books accessible to children regardless of their economic background. So the program typically strives to be inclusive and welcoming to all eligible children. [00:11:00] The books children receive from Dolly's Imagination Library are carefully selected to cater to their age and developmental stage.

The program offers a wide variety of books that span different genres, themes, and styles. And while specific titles may vary depending on your region and availability, Here are some examples of the types of books children may receive. Classic fairy tales with timeless stories such as Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, all of those introduce children to traditional narratives and moral lessons.

There are picture books, colorful and engaging books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Where the Wild Things Are by Morris Sendick, and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Capture the imagination and encourage a love for storytelling. Educational books, bedtime stories, diversity inclusion, books that promote understanding and empathy by featuring [00:12:00] characters from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Titles like The Color of Us by Karen Katz or Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena showcase inclusivity and teach valuable life lessons. And then there are other books that are all about adventure and imagination such as Where the Sidewalk Ends or The Gruffalo.

They're social emotional learning books. Titles like The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn or The Invisible String by Patrice Karst can be comforting and empowering for young readers. So these are just a few examples, and the Imagination Library continually updates its book selections to provide a diverse and enriching reading experience for children.

Now I thought, before we wrap, I would... run over to my daughter's bookshelf and just grab a couple of the books that she has received from Dolly that she is constantly asking me to read to her. So, I've got like five or six [00:13:00] books that are some of my daughter's favorites. So, A Story for Small Bear by Alice B.

McGinty and Richard Jones, The Rabbit Listened by Corey Dorfeld, Goodnight Numbers by Danica McKellar, Little Excavator by Anna Doudny, which, side note, this is the same writer who is the creator of the Llama Llama books. That's another book that we also received from Dolly. Little Excavator and the Llama Llama books are probably hands down within the top five of my daughter's very favorite books.

She asks to read these all the time. Okay, and then another one is called Find Fergus by Mike Bolt. And then lastly, Baby Builders by Elissa Hayden Guest. Those are some of my daughter's favorite books that she's received from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.[00:14:00] We are forever grateful to Dolly for creating this program.

It's been something that, like I mentioned earlier, every month both my daughter and I so look forward to our Dolly books. So when you sign up for these books, You'll see that typically on the back cover and also on the very back of the book as well, there's typically an imagination library stamp and on the inside of the back cover.

There's typically information about the program as well as a photo of Dolly reading a book. And so, my daughter knows who Dolly Parton is, even at a very, very young age. She would say, that's Dolly, or Dolly sent me that book, or has Dolly sent my book yet? She would ask. So while we are sad that we've aged out of the program, we're so thankful for all of the books that Dolly has sent us.

Like I said, so many of them are just on our regular rotation every week or [00:15:00] every couple of weeks. These will be books that I know are going to last my daughter for a very, very long time. And so while we won't be receiving any more Dolly books now that she has turned five, I'm super excited to continue picking these books up over the next however many years.

I'm also really excited to get more involved and active with our local library. I don't know where you live, of course, but chances are you also have an awesome local public library at your fingertips. We have two that we can get to pretty easily. They both have awesome children's programs and children's areas.

And so just within the last few weeks, I have been taking my daughter. to the different programs that our local library has been doing. Puppet shows, yoga for kids, silly song and dance time. And of course, every time we go, she has to go look through the books for her for her age and her section. And we typically come [00:16:00] home with one, two, three, or maybe five, six or seven, depending on how I'm feeling on a given day.

But I love that. And I have to give Dolly so much credit for just helping to. foster this love of reading in my daughter. So whether you are expecting or you have a newborn or maybe your kiddo is already two, three, four, that's okay. As long as you have a child or children under the age of five, you can sign up for the imagination library.

So I cannot recommend it enough. You have nothing to lose. And 60 books to gain, you will have a very full bookshelf by the time your kiddo has aged out of the program, just like we do. So I hope you will check it out. Head on over to imaginationlibrary. com and get signed up today. You will not regret it.

[00:17:00] So as we wrap today's episode, I just want to remind you that it is hard to take care of those you love. If you're not taking care of yourself, friend. So this is just that gentle reminder to stay hydrated. Make time for a quick walk around your office, around your neighborhood, around the kitchen.

Whatever it is you can do to just get out and get moving for a little bit. Get that heart rate up. Get a little glisten going on. Also don't forget to wash your face and slather on a great overnight moisturizer before you slip into those sheets tonight. Also make sure you put on that sunscreen in the morning.

Your skin is going to thank you. I appreciate you joining me on this episode of Secret Mom Hacks today. Thank you for spending time with me. And I really hope you found this information about Dolly's reading program super helpful. If that's the case, please subscribe for free if you haven't already. Give me a five star rating and leave a review sharing your favorite takeaway so [00:18:00] far.

Make sure you stop by SecretMomHacks. com where you can find transcripts, resources, and more. Stay tuned for next week's episode. And until then you've got this mama.


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