Dolly Parton’s ‘Imagination Library’ brings books to thousands of children in Southwest Louisiana

Published: Apr. 12, 2019 at 6:57 PM CDT
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SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - Two-year-old Gabe Brown just can’t get enough books. He’s one of hundreds of children in Southwest Louisiana that are taking advantage of Dolly Parton’s “Imagination Library."

This project delivers books to children from birth through age five.

“He brings me stacks of books and wants me to read every single one of them,” Hali Brown, Gabe’s mom, said. “He kept bringing books to me last night, ‘mama read, mama read’ so we read several books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library last night actually.”

The United Way in Lake Charles makes that library possible. Denise Durel is it’s president and CEO. She said getting kids reading early is the goal.

"We know that children who have early access in life to being read to and books and literature, are going to be better readers, and are going to have an easier go through their school years," Durel said.

Durel said the local branch has more than 900 children currently enrolled. Since 2013, she says over 42,000 books have been mailed to children right here in Southwest Louisiana. Catherine Thevenot is a mother of 4-year-old Tyler, who looks forward to getting her new book every month.

"She really enjoys the books,” Thevenot said. “She gets to pick three books, that's our nightly ritual. We read three books together, she reads three books too, but she more so looks and the pages and makes it up, but that sparks her imagination," Thevenot said. "Her vocabulary is incredible. I think that it's a very beneficial program."

For Brown, she says having her son go through this program will put him at an advantage when he starts school.

“I definitely think by the end of the program he’ll be able to read and talk about the books and even talk about the books with his friends at school,” Brown said.

Click here to sign your child up for the program and to find out more.

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