Partnership For Children Of Johnston County Receives Funding For Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are working together to bring books to North Carolina’s youngest children through funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.

During the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year of the budget and $7 million in the second year for the Smart Start network to offer free books through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children across the state. Imagination Library is a program created to foster a love of reading among children aged birth to five through the gift of a specially selected book delivered right to their home each month.

“I’m thrilled that my Imagination Library is going to be offered to so many children in North Carolina” stated Dolly Parton, the founder of Imagination Library. “Working together we can help children dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.”

The majority of Johnston County families live in what is considered a Book Desert, meaning children do not have access to books in their home. Access to books and family reading are key factors in ensuring children are prepared for kindergarten and on the path to proficient reading by the end of 3rd Grade.

“Our state leaders clearly understand how important an early love of reading is for each child’s success in school and later in life,” stated Cindy Watkins, the President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children that oversees the Smart Start network. “Smart Start works in every community to ensure young children have a strong foundation for starting kindergarten – now we can offer this important literacy program to that critical work.”

“Reading as a child was my great joy as I immersed myself in stories that let me imagine and dream.  I know that developing a love of reading at an early age also helped me develop the discipline I needed to study and fueled my life long desire to learn,” stated Dwight Morris, Executive Director of the Partnership for Children of Johnston County. “Providing the gift of books to all our youngest children is a great investment by our Legislators in our most precious and important resource.”

Families in Johnston County can register now by visiting, via the Partnership for Children website at or by calling the Partnership for Children at 919-202-0002.