CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Country music icon Dolly Parton will visit Charleston Tuesday night to celebrate her Imagination Library reading program in the Mountain State.
“An Evening with Dolly” will take place at the Clay Center and will be live streamed by West Virginia Public Broadcasting beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Parton will perform two songs and take part in a fireside chat with Marshall University President Brad Smith about her Imagination Library, a program that mails books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five around the world.
All 55 counties in West Virginia now have access to high-quality, age appropriate books each month. Marshall University’s June Harless Center and the state Department of Education have partnered to administer the program.
Tarabeth Heineman, executive director of the June Harless Center, told MetroNews on Monday it’s inspiring to see a celebrity follow through on her promise to help kids read.
“Dolly promised to come visit if we were able to afford this opportunity to all children and she’s making good on that promise,” Heineman said. “She really contributes and gives back to her community and that’s no different here in West Virginia.”
Since 2007, the program has provided more than three million books to West Virginia children at no cost to families. It launched in 1995.
Heineman said currently 94,000 West Virginia children are eligible to receive books.
“Up to this point, we have 50 percent participation which is awesome,” she said. “Now we’re just trying to spread awareness and continue to sustain funding to make sure that every child in West Virginia receives these books on a monthly basis.”
The earlier that children can be exposed to reading, the better, Heineman said, but sometimes she said parents can’t afford to buy multiple books.
“We know that some families struggle and so this opportunity provides and starts to build a library for a child. Over the course of these five years, they’ll receive 60 books that are specially selected books that are age appropriate and really foster not only those pre-literacy skills, but also that love of reading,” she said.
Tuesday’s event is not open to the public.
For more information about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, CLICK HERE.