COLUMBUS, Ohio — Country music superstar Dolly Parton visited Columbus Tuesday to celebrate the success of her Imagination Library program in Ohio.
Parton spoke and performed at First Lady Fran DeWine's luncheon at 12 p.m. Tuesday. Watch her a video of her visit in the player below:
"I’m just so honored to know that the little program we started all those many years ago has really become one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life," Parton said.
The legendary singer told the crowd she grew up visiting family often in Cleveland, Akron and Willoughby.
News 5 covered the program from its early beginnings in Northeast Ohio, when it was available in just a small selection of communities.
“Ohio has more children enrolled in @dollyslibrary than any other state.” - @FranDeWine— Clay LePard (@ClayLePard) August 9, 2022
In Cuyahoga County, @dollyslibrary has provided more than 1 million free books, mailed out to more than 50,000 children ages 0-5. @literacycoop
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library was formally created in 2019 and originally was only available in a select few counties. By the end of 2020, the program became available for all families for free, regardless of where they lived.
"When we first started the Imagination Library, it was only available in pockets of the state and now it’s available to every child under the age of 5," Fran DeWine said.
We are excited to welcome @DollyParton and @dollyslibrary to Ohio tomorrow to celebrate the success of @ImaginationOhio!— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) August 8, 2022
Sign up for #ImaginationOhio: https://t.co/VZfXimxRMU pic.twitter.com/wtjbvQsGk9
Last month, the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library became Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Ohio.
Organizers said more than 327,000 kids are enrolled in Ohio’s Imagination Library, amounting to about 45% of those eligible between newborns until 5 years old.
Joan Spoerl, director of Imagination Library with Literacy Cooperative told News 5 that their on the ground work in Cuyahoga County over the years has led to more than a million books distributed in the county.
"The more exposure children get to books and reading, the better," she explained. "We know the critical window for language development in the brain is the first two years of life. The first five years are the critical window for brain development and language development."
All kids living in Ohio between birth and 5 years old are eligible to enroll in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Ohio. To sign up and learn more, click here.
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