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Cabarrus Magazine

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Needs Local Families to Sign Up Before the Deadline

Apr 11, 2018 01:53PM ● By Melanie Heisinger
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is an initiative that the Cabarrus Partnership for Children took on. The Partnership connects purpose, people, and programs to ensure 'Child Well Being' in Cabarrus County. 

The mission is fulfilled by assessing the needs of our community and implementing services through their three core activities: Family Outreach, Early Education and Health for children 0 – 5 years of age.

"The Partnership is a collaborative organization and contracts with many community partners in order to implement programs that meet our goals for preparing children in Cabarrus County for success in kindergarten," Executive Director for the Cabarrus Partnership for Children, Ann C. Benfield, told us.

The Partnership was incorporated in 1998 to bring the North Carolina Smart Start Program to Cabarrus County. In 2002, the Partnership added responsibility for the state’s NC Pre-Kindergarten Program and manages the high quality early education program for 389 at risk four-year-olds during the 2017 - 2018 school year in 18 classrooms located in public schools and child care centers.

In 2017, North Carolina’s state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year and $7 million in the second year of the state budget for Smart Start to administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across North Carolina.

The Smart Start network, made up of 75 local partnerships that serve our state’s communities, is signing up families across NC for Imagination Library which is a book gifting program for children from birth to age five. Cabarrus County was approved to sign up 7,500 children under the age of 5 years by June 30, 2018 and 2000 more by June 30, 2019.

We wanted to learn more about this program, as well as who could join, to help them reach their June 2018 goals. Benfield took some time to answer a few questions for us. 

What is the goal with the Imagination Library?

Dolly Parton’s vision was to foster a love of reading for preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.

I saw that more children need to sign up for the Imagination Library to continue. Where can someone do this?

Yes, we need to get children signed up by June 30, 2018 or the funding must be reverted back to the State of NC. They can register at or the family can call 704-933-8278 ext 100 and we can help them register.

What can a child and family expect when joining?

Within 6-8 weeks of registering the family can expect a free developmentally appropriate book to be mailed to their home each month until their child’s fifth birthday. If the family moves, it is very important for them to go online and update their new address so the books will continue to come each month. The books will not be forwarded, because they are bulk mailed.  

Have you had a memorable moment so far?

Families telling us how much their child loves the books and getting mail.  

Visit the Partnership website to learn more about how to sign up, or give them a call at  704-933-8278 ext 100.

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