Dolly Parton hit a huge milestone here in the District recently, as her program to promote early literacy in children hit the one million books mark.
The program, called "Books From Birth" which partners with the DC Library, entitles children in DC to receive one free book in the mail every month until they turn 5 years old. Nearly 35,000 children are enrolled in the program which began in 2016. In August, "Books From Birth" says they have now sent over one million books to children across DC.
Parton wrote a letter to the DC Library congratulating them on their success, saying in part, "I always say that while I often get a lot of credit, it is really our local partners, like the DC Public Library and the many volunteers that deserve the praise. So... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping inspire children in DC to Dream More... Learn More... Care More... and Be More."
Rich Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Library says, "That we've been able to hit one million books probably faster than any municipality I know that has implemented a similar program means there's a thirst for early literacy in the city."
"Books From Birth" grew out of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library which she started in 1995 to encourage children to read. The program originally served children in her hometown in Tennessee and its success spawned similar arms across dozens of areas of the US including Prince George's County in Maryland as well as the UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada.
Across all of Parton's initiatives to encourage children to read at an early age, over 130 million books in total have been given away for free.