Dolly Parton’s reading program coming to Hoosiers


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – From growing up in poverty with an illiterate father, to becoming a household name, Dolly Parton has certainly made her impact on the world. Now she’s making one right here in the Tri-state.

Dolly Parton started Imagination Library in 1995, and it’ a cause very near and dear to her heart.

Its purpose is to give every child access to free books. Now children in Vanderburgh County can also have the chance to develop their own personal library.

“I wanted to do something that would help millions of kids and people who couldn’t read and write,” said Dolly Parton.

The program was inspired by her own father who couldn’t read or write himself.

“The goal of Hoosiers Read is really to increase early childhood literacy across the state of Indiana. And the way we do that is by partnering with a wonderful organization, funded by the woman herself, Dolly Parton,” said Hoosiers Read Founder, Ben Battaglia.

It also garnered the interest of the CenterPoint Energy Foundation which today, presented a $250,000 check to Vanderburgh County.

“So our like long term goal would be to get this program in the entire state of Indiana, so all 92 counties, and we looked at CenterPoint energy’s footprint and said, ‘how do we get the ball rolling,” said Amanda Schmitt, President of CenterPoint Energy Foundation.

The program sends one free book to kids from birth to age five on a monthly basis.

“I’ve met one too many kids who don’t have very many books in their house. And so I want every kid to experience the joy and opportunity that comes from reading,” said Battaglia.

“The fact that so many kids here will be able to develop their own personal libraries at an early age. So hopefully some parents will be able to say put those books down, we have to eat. That’s a good problem for a parent to have,” said Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

“There’s a huge opportunity to make a long run impact on a kid’s life,” said Battaglia.

An impact inspired by Dolly Parton’s father who never got the same chance.

“When I got this idea to do the library, I wanted to get Daddy involved, so he could take the pride in that. He got to live long enough to hear the kids call me ‘The book lady,'” said Parton.

To register your child, CLICK HERE.

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