First Lady Champions Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio

This post is intended to share an update on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio in Crawford County and share First Lady Fran DeWine’s visit to Bucyrus, Crawford County, where she read to our community’s kids. 

What is the Imagination Library?

Launched by Dolly Parton in 1995, this effort benefits kids from birth to age five with age-appropriate books mailed monthly to the kids, at no cost to the family. This program ensures children have books regardless of their family’s income, encourages reading, creates excitement around books, and improves literacy. 

How It All Started for Crawford County:

In 2019 key stakeholders from Crawford County began meeting to make this program a reality in the county. In September 2020, the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library in Crawford County (now known as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio) launched in the county. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s wife, First Lady Fran DeWine, challenged all Ohio counties to participate in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

The launch wouldn’t have happened without the Bucyrus Public Library, the Avita Health Foundation, Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, the United Way of North Central Ohio, the Crawford Partnership, and the Ohio legislature, which included $5 million to jump-start the program. 

Why Stakeholders Got Involved:

Each stakeholder brought a unique value to the table when supporting this initiative. The Avita Health Foundation supports the work happening in Avita’s Pediatric Primary Care, whose physicians are committed to early child development. The Bucyrus Public Library previously launched a complementary program, Crawfords Reads 20, which encourages everyone to read to kids for at least20 minutes daily. Yet another example is Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, a locally headquartered company that wants to help close the gaps for kids in the community. The Crawford Partnership and United Way of North Central Ohio both support a community vision and initiatives that move education forward and make the region stronger.

Together with these community organizations at the table, Crawford County was able to launch an affiliate location. This collaborative effort with multiple groups, each bringing their strengths and missions to the county, creates forward momentum and implements successful programs.  

Imagination Library in Crawford County Today:

By September 2022, just two years after the Crawford County launch, more than 1,300 kids are participating in the program. The program is available in all 88 Ohio counties, and nearly 50% of all Ohio kids are registered. 

On September 19, 2022 Crawford County welcomed Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine to read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. First Lady DeWine championed this program in Ohio after watching her own grandchildren receive books in the mail from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

Over the past three years, 7 million books have been distributed in Ohio. 

Get Involved:

Whether you are an avid reader, want to make a difference in a kid’s life, or have a child that qualifies, find a way to be a part of this effort that teaches kids to associate books with love, affection, and excitement.

Enroll -or- Donate: