OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Young kids in Oklahoma County now have the chance to get a free book every month, thanks to Dolly Parton.

Dolly’s ‘Imagination Library’ is now open to all Oklahoma County children under the age of 5!

“He loves books,” said mom Crystal Raymond, who signed up her son, Theo. “He loves the colors. As you can see, he’s like pointing things out and just touching it and he’s not even a year old.”

On Monday, even the babies were discovering the magic inside the pages of a book, thanks to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Now, all children in Oklahoma County under the age of five are eligible to receive a free, high-quality book each month through the program.

“It’s for free so what better way to connect with your child and teach them words and even life lessons through books that are age-appropriate for them,” said mom Juliana Gutierrez, who signed up her daughter Marcela. 

Studies show children who have access to books in their homes get a head start in the classroom and beyond.

“That’s the biggest gap of our students is when they actually enter into kindergarten, if they didn’t have an opportunity for pre-K, then the exposure to vocabulary is a separator,” said Dr. Jamie Polk, OKCPS Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools.

Earlier this year, the State Department of Education announced it was investing $2.5 million in federal emergency funds to match local funds to support the expansion of this program statewide.

“Our youngest learners have faced significant pandemic-related disruptions and it will affect early literacy learning,” said Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “So this is going to help mitigate some of those setbacks.”

If enough kids sign up for this program, a visit from this Dolly is something you won’t have to imagine.

“When we have an area that meets the 100% more, which is classified as being able to have 60% or more of the eligible population enrolled in the program in your area, then Dolly makes a visit,” said Metropolitan Library System Executive Director Dr. Larry White. “So if you want to see Dolly, then we would welcome you to be an advocate for us and share that good news.”

Funding from Friends of the Metropolitan Library System as well as the Library Endowment Trust helped make this possible.

If you’d like to sign up, click here