Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Gift Of Reading

Local children benefit from Imagination Library

Guest blogger: Michaele Duke
The Kingstree News
From left: Carletta Isreal, TammaRa Lasane, TammaLa Lasane
Photo courtesy of Michaele Duke
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has touched countless young lives since its inception 20 years ago.  The program, which is designed to foster a love of reading by mailing free, age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to age five, reaches communities across the globe.

In the rural town of Salters in Williamsburg County, SC, two young ladies are living testaments to the lasting impact reading can have on a child. TammaRa and TammaLa Lasane are sisters who have personal experiences with the program. TammaRa, 14, began receiving books from the program when she was nearly five. TammaRa would share her books with her newborn sister and went on to share her love of reading with school children. 

"It made me feel good to know I've done something to make kids want to read more,"
said TammaRa. In 2013 she raised money through a church program to buy books that she donated to local children.

TammaLa began receiving the books when she was two years old. She enjoyed reading so much that she was named the highest reader out of three grade levels at her school and in fifth grade she was named the highest reader of the entire school. In addition, the Williamsburg County Library awarded her with a bicycle for her accomplishments. She said she plans to pass on her love of reading to everyone who will listen. 
"I like reading books because they help me in school," 
said the shy 11 year old who has read over 100 books.
Photo courtesy of Michaele Duke
TammaLa said her secret to making kids want to read is simple. 
"You just have to find something that they're really interested in and read it to them."
 The girl's mother, Tammy, knew that concept very well. 
"We were very energetic with the reading," said Tammy. "To make the book bigger than life, if it said "bam," I'd say just as loud as I could, "BAM!,"
 laughed Tammy. 
"They would be looking in the book for that word because I made it so loud."

Tammy obviously understands the importance of a parent or loved one reading to a child and research supports her thinking. Studies show 68 percent of fourth graders do not read at a proficient level and one out of six children who do not read at age level by the end of third grade will not graduate from high school. Research also shows that children who read on a regular basis score better on reading tests and written tests than infrequent readers.

Ms. Parton's father, Robert Lee Parton, who could not read or write was the inspiration behind the program.  Known as "The Book Lady," Ms. Parton launched Imagination Library from her hometown in 1995 and has since mailed over 70 million books worldwide. Williamsburg County First Steps Executive Director Carletta Isreal will be on hand for the celebration. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy International Children's Book Day

Today we celebrate International Children's Book Day
Happy International Children's Book Day

Today we celebrate International Children's Book Day as we prepare to mail free books to hundreds of thousands of children around the world. Our founder, legendary icon, Dolly Parton fell in love with reading at a young age. Inspired by her father’s inability to read, Dolly launched her Imagination Library, a book gifting program for children in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her vision was to inspire a lifelong love of reading in children from birth.

“Because of the kindness and generosity of hundreds of local organizations and companies my little program continues to expand all around the world. You can never get enough books in the hands of enough children,” Dolly said.

What started as a local effort in Dolly’s home county, now spans four countries and has mailed more than 66 million free, age-appropriate books to children enrolled in the program. Titles include a multitude of popular children’s books beginning with Dolly's personal favorite "The Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper.
*All titles published exclusively by Penguin Random House.

As the world celebrates this day devoted to children's books, authors, illustrators, beloved characters and the joy they all bring, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is preparing its monthly shipment of over 800,000 free children’s books.

She may be the Queen of Country Music but to millions of children Dolly Parton is affectionately known as The Book Lady, a title that brought her father great joy.

Watch as Dolly talks about starting the program and what it meant to her father.

Dolly Parton explains the inspiration behind her Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free, age-appropriate books to registered children from birth to age five.
Posted by Dolly Parton's Imagination Library on Thursday, April 2, 2015

This year alone, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States will mail over 9.5 million books.
*For a complete list of books to be mailed in 2015, click here.

 “Dream More, Learn More, Care More, Be More” --Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2015 Gold Medal Book Selections - United Kingdom

 Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, UK

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library releases 2015 book selection list for the United Kingdom.

Each year, the esteemed Gold Medal Book Selection Committee, a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts, is responsible for reviewing hundreds of potential titles for inclusion in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library UK. With the new year’s list curated, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is proud to announce the 2015 Gold Medal Book Selections.

“My commitment to kids has always been to deliver the very best books right to their doorstep and last year we put over 9 million books in the hands of children and their families. Of course, none of this would be possible without the contributions of these talented authors, illustrators and the hundreds of local partners who love kids as much as I do,” 
said Dolly Parton.

The list of selected titles include new and popular childrens books like: “Each Peach Pear Plum” by Janet and Alan Ahlberg, “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy” by Lynley Dodd, and “Charlie and Lola: I am Really, Really Concentrating” by Lauren Child.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the premiere early childhood book gifting programme in the world by mailing over 66million books in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Currently the programme mails over 820,000 specially selected, age appropriate books monthly to registered children from birth to age 5. In 2015, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will mail over 9.5 million books to Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Dolly’s vision was to create a lifelong love of reading, prepare children for Kindergarten and inspire them to dream. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library program is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Goes To Australia!

United Way Australia makes program possible for children in Australia!

As of today, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is now excited to be available in Australia. With months of planning behind the scenes, United Way Australia and The Dollywood Foundation made it public news today that Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is now available in Australia. Although small numbers to start, nearly 3 dozen (and growing) Australian children will soon be seeing books arrive in the mail for the first time in the history of the program. 

Take a few minutes and have a look around here: and if you are in Australia and have what it takes to replicate this program, then we urge you to click here and start a program for the children in your community.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Never Underestimate The Power Of Reddit

Dolly Parton
On February 13th, 2013, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library quickly became familiar with a social media website called Reddit.

Early Wednesday morning, we noticed that registrations and program replication requests from our website, were on the rise. Shortly thereafter we noticed our real-time traffic was out of control (in a good way).
Using Google Analytics, we logged in and began to monitor our website using their new Real-Time analytics which can show you the traffic within your website, as it is happening. This is extremely helpful to combat any malicious attempts to gain access to our system and to help gauge the overall health of our system.

While looking at our real-time data in Google Analytics, we saw that Reddit as sending viewers to our homepage, sometimes at a rate of several thousand new viewers per minute. Throughout the day yesterday, at any given second, was host to thousands of viewers from all around the world.

Imagination Library
This traffic surge was taxing on our servers and in the very beginning, our tech team wasn't sure how to react. After all, our main concern is always the security of our users. Without knowing the source of the traffic, of course our security settings initially blocked the surge in fear it was an attempted attack. Once we pinpointed the source of the traffic, the tech team jumped in and made adjustments to allow the traffic. It was all-hands-on-deck for the rest of the day and well into the late evening hours.

In addition to the traffic surge coming from Reddit  viewers and bloggers that were unable to access the site, called it the "Reddit Effect" which is when a website goes down due to the high traffic volume. All in all though, everyone remained in good spirits, the tech team came through, Facebook, Google + and Twitter buzz was off the charts and we ended up having the best day in the history of our program!

To show just how significant this phenomenon was for our program, we thought we would compare yesterday's data with the same time last year. It is stunning to say the least.

The RAW Data

  • Total Viewers - Up 1,163%
  • Online Registrations - Up 1,000%+ (Most online registrations in program history) 
  • Program Replication Requests - Up 290%
  • Donations - Up 450%
Top 5 Countries (In order of total traffic volume per country)
  1. USA (Up 1,091%)
  2. Canada (Up 4,544%)
  3. United Kingdom (Up 1,317%)
  4. Australia (Up 7,000+%)
  5. Germany (Up 4,746%)
As the international exposure on Reddit yesterday shows us, anything is possible. Just imagine the success that could be achieved if this was an everyday occurrence or even just a monthly occurrence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dream More - Dolly Parton's New Memoir, Now Available

Based on the hugely popular commencement speech Dolly Parton gave at the University of Tennessee that became a sensation, Dream More is a deeper and richer exploration of the personal philosophy she has forged over the course of her astonishing career as a singer, songwriter, performer, and philanthropist.
*All proceeds will benefit Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dream More by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton Has Done It Again!

November 27, 2012, will mark the release of Dolly's new book "Dream More" which will be available for sale here in the Imagination Library "Dolly Shop".
The book is based on an inspirational commencement speech Dolly delivered at the University of Tennessee in 2009.

Watch Dolly's commencement speech on video here:

In a statement about the book Dolly said:

I know that I’ve learned some things in my life that are important to me, and I think maybe they might be good ideas to pass along to you. Not as advice, but as information that I have found has helped me over the years. Enough to share, and a little to spare....

If you’re lucky, your dreams will never die, you may not always achieve them, but if you always have dreams and reach for them, you’ll never be a failure. I still have dreams of what I want to do next.
source LA Times

The most amazing part of this story is the fact that once again, just as she did with her top selling cookbook "Dolly's Dixie Fixin's", all proceeds from "Dream More" will benefit her Imagination Library program which has mailed more than 45 million free books to children in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom since it launched in 1996.
To help promote the new book, Dolly's Imagination Library has hosted a video contest which will give 10 lucky winners an autographed copy of Dream More (See contest entries here) and Dolly will be making a series of television appearances, radio interviews and doing interviews with traditional print media. Here's a partial list of some of those appearances as currently scheduled:
*All scheduled appearances and interviews listed are subject to change without notice. For a complete list and updates as they happen, follow us on Facebook.
Dream More will be available for sale in the official donations and merchandise area of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library located here, beginning November 27th at 12:00AM Eastern. Quantities will initially be limited. All orders received will be processed for immediate shipping during normal business hours while quantities last.  

Dixie Stampede & Pirates Voyage Donate More than $267,000

In other news,  Dolly's Dixie Stampede dinner and show attractions in Pigeon Forge, TN and Branson, MO and her Pirates Voyage dinner and show attraction in Myrtle Beach, SC, presented a check this week (Monday, November 19, 2012) for more than $267,000.

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