First Lady Salutes Imagination Library in Hawkins and Hancock Counties

First Lady Salutes Imagination Library in Hawkins and Hancock CountiesTravels to Rogersville and Sneedville with Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation President Theresa Carl 

NASHVILLE – At events held today in Rogersville and Sneedville, First Lady Crissy Haslam and Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) President Theresa Carl thanked Imagination Library volunteers and stakeholders, recognizing the positive impact of the early childhood literacy program in Hawkins and Hancock Counties. 

First Lady Haslam began the day at Union Heights Elementary School in Morristown for an event celebrating student participation in her Read20 Family Book Club. Mrs. Haslam congratulated students for their commitment to read at least twenty minutes each day and delivered free books on behalf of Scholastic for students to enjoy over the summer. Later, at the Price Public Community Center & Swift Museum in Rogersville, the Hawkins County Imagination Library welcomed the First Lady with a fundraising luncheon hosted by the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club and Delta Kappa Gamma honorary society of women educators. Members of each group were in attendance, as well as active and retired county and municipal dignitaries. Mrs. Haslam was the event’s featured speaker, where she discussed her gratitude for Imagination Library volunteers and the vital importance of their work.

 “The success of the Imagination Library program is dependent upon the hard work and generous support of community volunteers,” Mrs. Haslam said. “It is tremendous to see so many groups come together in support of early literacy for children in Hawkins County today.” 

After the luncheon, Mrs. Haslam and Ms. Carl traveled to Hancock County to attend a meet-and-greet event at the Sneedville Community Center co-hosted by the local Imagination Library affiliate and the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. There the pair thanked volunteers, stakeholders and public officials in Hancock County for continuing to grow the Imagination Library program. 

“We’ve all heard the African proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” Carl said. “Our statewide Imagination Library works so well because communities in each county share responsibility among volunteers, businesses, donors, educators and parents. Their combined talents and efforts sustain this incredible program, and we’re grateful for what they do.” 

Launched by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails one new, age-appropriate book every month to registered children from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. The Imagination Library is available to all of Tennessee’s 408,000 children under age five, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state. 

Nearly 18 million books have been delivered across Tennessee since the GBBF’s inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors, and a host of private sector partners, the GBBF matches, dollar for dollar, all funds raised by each program affiliate – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S.

“We are so very fortunate to have volunteers in all 95 counties who share a common resolve, which is to equip the youngest children in our state with a love of learning and reading from birth,” Ms. Carl said. “With their help, the Imagination Library program is making a difference in the lives of an entire generation of Tennesseans.” Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties. 

An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home. Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive to kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January of this year, a team of researchers concluded that reading to a child in an interactive style can raise the child’s IQ by as much as six points. 

“A child’s first learning experiences can set the trajectory for the rest of his or her life,” Mrs. Haslam said. “The Imagination Library can help all Tennessee children to have a healthy start and greater opportunity in life by providing access to books at home.” 

For more information about the Read 20 Family Book Club visit,, follow @Read20TN on Twitter, or go to your local public library. 

About the GBBF: 
The mission of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is to sustain and strengthen Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Tennessee’s preschool children, at no cost to the family and regardless of income. To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit,, or call toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.