Celebrating 2,000,000 Books with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

"This kid loves to read," mother Kendra noted about her son Brantley, just before Brantley was presented with Sioux Empire United Way's 2,000,000th book through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program.

While Brantley was a bit speechless during the book presentation (a crowd and news cameras can make even the most rambunctious four year old a bit shy), he dug right into his latest Imagination Library book, along with his prize package that contained an additional book bundle.

The book presentation included commentary from Sioux Empire United Way Board Chair, Dr. Daniel Heinemann and a reading of a Mayoral Proclamation declaring November 13th as Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Day in Sioux Falls by City Council Chair Marshall Selberg.

Dr. Heinemann noted that Sioux Empire United Way brought Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to our community in 2001, just five years after Dolly Parton created the program in her home state of Tennessee. The program delivers a free book each month through the mail to children from birth to age five, creating a library of 60 books before they enter kindergarten.

"As a new grandpa whose granddaughter has now received six books from Imagination Library, I love those moments of sitting and reading to her," stated Dr. Heinemann. "We learn to read, so we can then read to learn, and that is why this program is so important, to create that love of reading at an early age."

Marshall Selberg presented the Mayoral Proclamation, noting "The program currently provides more than 10,000 children with a book each month."

While Brantley may have received a little extra gift today, the true gift arrives in the mail each month for children across the Sioux Empire, as they open their new books and let their imaginations soar.



  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was founded in 1996 in Dolly's home state of Tennessee.
  • The program mails a new book each month to children from birth to age five.
  • The program is free.
  • Child development professionals select age-appropriate books to be used in the Imagination Library program. For example, books delivered to children ages birth to one focus on touch, rhyme, and rhythm. Books for children ages four to five focus on riddles, non-fiction, and school preparation.
  • Sioux Empire United Way was one of the first affiliates outside of Tennessee when we funded the program in 2001.
  • In 2002, South Dakota became the first state outside of Tennessee to offer the program across the state. United Ways in Madison, Mitchell, Watertown, Aberdeen, Huron, Pierre, Brookings, and the Black Hills offer the program in their community.
  • When Sioux Empire United Way launched the program in 2001, just over 6,000 children received books. We currently deliver books to more than 10,000 children each month.
  • The program delivers a new book each month to children from birth until they turn five. The first book for every child is "The Little Engine That Could" and the final book is "Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come.”
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library serves children in the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. As of October 2019, the program has provided 127,948,148 books.
  • Learn more or sign up your child using our registration form.