Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Clinton County Promotes Literacy, School Readiness

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start reading to their children from birth. A large body of research has shown that children exposed to books at a young age have stronger vocabulary, literacy, attention spans and concentration, and they are better prepared . MRIs taken while preschoolers are being read to illustrate active brain development. 

That’s why the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Clinton County has mailed over 74,000 books to registered children from birth to age 5 since its inception in 2012, helping children in the region prepare for kindergarten and a lifetime of reading and learning. 

There are currently 1,225 children enrolled in the program who are receiving one book a month for the first five years of their lives – at a cost of just $25 a year. That’s a total investment of only $125, which gives each child 60 age-appropriate books as they grow. Each book includes parent engagement tools to encourage young readers to predict, infer, draw conclusions and expand their vocabulary and comprehension. 

Sending roughly 12,000 of these high quality, Blue Ribbon Series books annually costs the Dolly Parton Imagination Library about $24,000. With private donations and grant dollars, the organization supports the cost of the books so they can be provided to families affordably. There is a special focus on low-income and special needs families, who may have difficult schedules, transportation barriers or live far from local libraries. 

“My son is only two, but he loves reading books. We look forward to getting a new one every month,” says Sarah, whose son is registered for the program. “It’s hard to get him to stop reading before bed. This month was great, because he loves trains right now and we got The Sleep Train. So thankful for this program!”

Sponsors who help make these moments possible for children and families across the county include the United Way of Clinton County, LincolnWay Community Foundation (an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque), DeWitt Noon Lions, Lawlor Trust, Union Pacific Railroad Foundation and many parents and grandparents. Donations of just $25 will support sending books to a child each month for a year. Gifts of $125 support sending books to five children for a year. Support can be mailed to:

Imagination Library 

PO Box 225

DeWitt, IA 52742           

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library holds a fund with the LincolnWay Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The LincolnWay Community Foundation assists in charitable projects and programs that contribute to the quality of life in rural Clinton County, Iowa. The Foundation provides grants, scholarships, tax benefits and administration services to organization churches, schools and individuals with charitable intent in the following areas: Calamus, Charlotte, Delmar, DeWitt, Goose Lake, Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Low Moor, Welton and Wheatland. To learn more, visit

Press Contact

Jeff Danna
Communications Manager

About Us
Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.