Open Books Presents:
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Chicago
More than two-thirds of Chicago is covered by book deserts – neighborhoods with no bookstores and
few if any books available for purchase anywhere else. Research shows that, in middle-income
neighborhoods, the average home contains 13 books per child; low-income neighborhoods contain a
single book for every 300 kids.
We intend to change that. Open Books’ Imagination Library program will provide every child in Chicago
with access to free, age-appropriate books delivered directly to their homes. The books arrive by mail –
often the first mail a child receives – every month from birth until the child turns 5. Each one is brand
new and carefully selected by a panel of experts on childhood literacy and early education.
Since launching in December 2018 in the North Lawndale neighborhood, we have expanded the
program to include Austin, Little Village and East Garfield Park. In each of those communities we collaborate closely with a network of partners – residents, neighborhood leadership, and the fabric of groups that provide social, educational and community support – to ensure that families who need books can get them.
Open Books is already delivering books to over 1,000 Chicago children.
In the next several years we aim to put millions of books in the hands of thousands of kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them.
Our operational partner is the Imagination Library, an organization founded by legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Inspired by her father, who grew up in a household without books and never learned to read, Ms. Parton started the Imagination Library in 1995 to provide books to children in her childhood home of Sevier County, Tenn. Since then, the program has delivered more than 120 million books to children all over the world. Through Open Books, the program is now available, for the first time, to children in Chicago at no cost to the families.
With our community partners in Chicago, and with Imagination Library, we’re sending that magic directly into the homes of the kids who need it most.