Important Updates Regarding Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Illinois

Since launching in North Lawndale in December, 2019, and expanding to other communities on the South and West Sides of the city,  we have exceeded all our expectations on enrollment thanks to help from partners like yourself. With the new Illinois budget passing, we are excited to partner closely with the incoming Dolly Parton Imagination Library Illinois Site Director on a vision for ensuring all children have access to high quality books through this program.  While this new director is identified and oriented to the program, we will be taking a break from enrolling new participants in the Chicago Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.  We will continue to deliver books to all children currently enrolled through their 5th birthday, just as our families have become accustomed to, but we will not be accepting any pending applications.

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. We are proud of the number of books we have sent to families in Chicago, and our hope is that we are able to resume new enrollees as soon as possible. We are working closely with State officials and members of the Dollywood Foundation on the formation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Illinois and development of the statewide strategy for Illinois.

The Library That Dolly Built

View the feature-length documentary, covering the history, impact and future of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my child eligible to receive free books?

This program is open to all children who live in zip codes 60608, 60612, 60623, 60624, 60644, and 60651 and are under the age of 5. If a child is 5 or older at the time of registration they will not be considered eligible for the program.

Can I register multiple children?

As long as each child is under the age of 5 and in the above zip codes, they are eligible for the program, regardless of the number of eligible children living in the same household. In order to register multiple children, simply complete and submit the online form once for each child or provide the representative at a designated in-person registration site with the appropriate information for each child. Please note that only a child’s parent or legal guardian may register them for the program.

When will my child receive the first book?

Mailed delivery of a child’s first book will likely occur 6-8 weeks after registration has been processed. Every registered child, regardless of age, will receive a new copy of The Little Engine That Could as their first book of the program.

How will my child receive their books?

Each month, children registered for the program will receive a new, free book in the mail at the home address with his or her name on the label. Books may arrive up until the last day of the month, and participating children living at the same address will likely not receive their books on the same day.

How are the books selected?

All books mailed to children through the program are chosen by a team of early literacy experts appointed by the Dollywood Foundation. Books are age-appropriate and are chosen to meet the specific needs of children at each stage of their development.

When will my child stop receiving books?

Children graduate from the program when they turn 5 years old and stop receiving books at that time. A child will also stop receiving books if they move to an address outside of the Chicago program coverage area. In the event that a child becomes ineligible for the program as a result of a move, it is possible to check whether the child’s new home address falls within the coverage area of another Dolly Parton Imagination Library affiliate. If this is the case, the child may be transferred from one program to another and continue receiving free books until the age of 5.

Still Have Questions? Contact Us:

[email protected]

312.475.1355 x2011