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New York lawmakers advocate for expansion of Dolly Parton’s imagination library

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  • Staff Report 

This week New York Senator Jeremy Cooney and Assemblymember Karines Reyes announced a legislative push for $2.5 million funding to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program statewide. The program, aiming to foster early literacy by delivering free books to children up to five years old, could reach more families with this proposed budget inclusion. The initiative follows the introduction of bills designed to establish a centralized state program for the Imagination Library, enhancing accessibility and efficiency.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The proposed funding is part of an effort to ensure that New York children have the opportunity to develop a love for reading from an early age. Highlighting the program’s nationwide success and its local impact in areas like Rochester and the Bronx, Cooney and Reyes emphasized the transformational nature of the Imagination Library. By providing high-quality books directly to homes, the program aims to boost literacy rates and educational outcomes for young New Yorkers.

Supporters of the initiative, including Senator Iwen Chu and various educational and children’s welfare organizations, praised the Imagination Library for its proven benefits in early childhood development and literacy. With over 200 million books gifted since its inception in 1995, Dolly Parton’s program has shown significant positive effects on children’s readiness for kindergarten and beyond. The New York legislators’ advocacy marks a step toward expanding this valuable resource to families across the state, highlighting the importance of early access to books for children’s growth and learning.