Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library coming to Isle of Wight

Published 1:22 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Smithfield Foods has provided funding to bring singer-songwriter Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Isle of Wight County.

Parton’s Imagination Library mails free, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth through age 5. Since its launch in 1995, the library has become the flagship of The Dollywood Foundation, a nonprofit program, and has given away nearly 200 million books in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland.

“On behalf of the Town of Smithfield, we are so very happy with Smithfield Foods’ dedication to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library,” said Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman. “This is truly a worthwhile endeavor that assists in improving the reading capabilities of our young citizens. Smithfield Foods, once again, demonstrates its commitment to the community and we are truly grateful.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ben Neal, director of the Blackwater Regional Library, said the program will be “great for early literacy in Isle of Wight County, and we should all be thankful for Smithfield Foods’ generosity.”

“Putting more books in the hands and homes of area families will improve the quality of life for everyone,” he said.

Ariane Williams, president of Isle of Wight County’s NAACP chapter, also praised the partnership.

“We believe that it is a great opportunity for the children in Isle of Wight County to experience Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” Williams said. “Early childhood literacy is critical to the overall development of children as they begin to absorb information, explore the many facets of rich vocabulary, improve language skills, and build critical reading and thinking skills. When children begin to read at an early age, they “inhale” a love for reading and “exhale” the opportunity to “dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.” 

Smithfield Foods’ participation comes as part of the DeGood Foundation’s regional expansion of Parton’s Imagination Library. The DeGood Foundation, founded by Kyle DeGood in 2017, is a nonprofit organization that provides Hampton Roads children with “equitable access to positive early childhood experiences.”

A celebration of the program’s expansion to Isle of Wight is planned for Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. in The Smithfield Center, located at 220 N. Church St., Smithfield.

There, parents will be able to register children and receive their first book on-site. The event will also feature a children’s Dolly Parton lookalike contest, community partner booths, games, activities and lunch provided by Smithfield Foods.