Prairieland United Way, Bound-to-Stay-Bound Books Foundation Partner to Bring Imagination Library to Area

By Benjamin Cox on April 3, 2024 at 6:45am

Two local entities have partnered to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program to Morgan, Scott, Greene, and Cass counties.

The Prairieland United Way has partnered with the Bound-to-Stay-Bound Books Foundation to bring the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library to the area. The Imagination Library will provide one book a month to children in the area from birth to age five with books delivered directly to their home at no cost to the families.

Children wanting to take part will need to be registered by a parent or guardian. There’s no charge to register, and the free books will be mailed directly to children’s homes. Kids will begin receiving books eight to 12 weeks after they’re registered.

Executive Director of the Prairieland United Way Karen Walker says its something that both local entities have been working together on for several weeks to make happen. She says that Governor J.B. Pritzker made it a priority to bring the Imagination Library to all corners of the state in his most recent budget address. Walker says that funding had to be worked out so that it could be brought to the 4-county radius: “The state is covering half of the cost of the program. If we could find a partnership that goes through a 501(c)3, so the United Way is the affiliate that is sponsoring it, but we needed to find a funding partner that could cover the other half of the prime expense. So, that’s where I reached out to Bound-To-Stay-Bound Books Foundation, and talked with [Vice President & General Manager of Bound to Stay Bound Books] Lori Smith, and it was something that they were very excited about being a part of.”

Smith says literacy is part of their foundation’s mission: “Bound To Stay Bound Books Foundation is incredibly excited about helping young families thrive, especially during these challenging times, by prompting parents to gather a child into their laps and read a book together. Reading supports early literacy, emotional bonding and opens a child to a world of possibilities.”

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has mailed well over 100 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.4 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics.

For additional information or to enroll your child in the program visit Walker says that the enroll process is easy and takes approximately 5-10 minutes. If you have further questions, you can contact Karen Walker at the Prairieland United Way by calling 217-245-4557 or email