Imagination Library of Louisville

Inspiring a Love of Reading

Helping Kids in Louisville Love to Read

Established in 2016

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Louisville was founded in 2016 through a partnership between the Junior League of Louisville, WAVE 3 News and the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation.

In its first year, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Louisville served 500 children in three of the county’s zip codes. Since then, Imagination Library of Louisville has grown tremendously while the mission stays the same.

The mission of Imagination Library of Louisville is to provide a free monthly book to Louisville children from birth to age five to foster a love of reading and prepare children for kindergarten. We believe that by improving early education in our community, we can contribute to the lifelong success of Jefferson County kids.

Building a Foundation of Literacy

We believe that by improving early education in our community, we can contribute to the lifelong success of Jefferson County children.

According to recent studies, more than 50% of Jefferson County children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn the basic reading skills needed to progress as successful students.

Part of this is due to a lack of access to books in early childhood. Children from middle-income homes have an average of 13 books per child, but there is only one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods.

We are seeking to change that by gifting children a monthly book that arrives on their doorstep with their name on it.

Not only does this create excitement around books, reading, and learning, but a child signed up at birth will receive 60 books during their time in the program resulting in their own personal library.

Which Books Will My Child Receive?

How it works: Every registered child in an eligible zip code receives a free, high quality, age appropriate book mailed to their home with their name on it every month until their fifth birthday.

Book selection is a big deal! A committee of child literacy experts meet in the fall to select the books for the following year. A variety of factors are considered including diversity and representation, the text and story, illustrations, subject matter, learning objectives, etc.

Two books out of every year are dual language (in English and Spanish) and one is non-fiction. Books are age appropriate so siblings get different books each month that facilitate developmentally appropriate learning.

Become a Partner, Partner

We couldn’t do this without our partners! Whether you would like to help us get kids signed up or sponsor a month of books, we’d love to hear from you!

Learn More About Our Mission

Video was produced by our partner, WAVE.

Since 2016, our team has passionately pursued the its goal of making sure every child in Jefferson County enters kindergarten ready to learn. Every year, mail thousands of books to the next generation of bookworms, scholars, and change makers.

About Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Nearly Three Decades and Hundreds of Millions of Books

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter their family’s income.

Dolly Parton founded Imagination Library in 1995 alongside her father who never learned to read. She witnessed how this held him back and sought to get books into the hands of children in early childhood to combat illiteracy. The program grew quickly and the first book order in 1995 totaled just over 1,700.

Today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends more than two million books per month to children across five countries around the world inspiring them to Dream More, Learn More, Care More, and Be More. 

Currently 1 out of every 10 children in the United States receives Imagination Library Books. Learn more about the global impact of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

About Our Executive Director

Maria Gurren

In June of 2022, Imagination Library of Louisville hired Maria Gurren as the organization’s first Executive Director. Maria comes from a background in social work earning her MSSW from the University of Louisville. She brings with her expertise and experience working in government, non-profit management, and in community organizing. For the past decade, she has worked as an advocate for families and children both in the community and at the policy level and she is excited to continue that work by ensuring that every child in Louisville has access to books in early childhood.

“Books were a huge part of my childhood. My mother read to my brother and I every single day and I spent countless hours at the library and curled up with a book as I began reading on my own. Books can take you to new places and open up new worlds and perspectives. There is no limit to where reading can take you and I am thrilled to help grow Imagination Library of Louisville so that every child in our community has access to books and the magic of reading.”

Board of Directors

Laurel Mallory
President
Metro United Way

Ali Hammond
Vice President
Price Weber

Jonathan Raymon
Treasurer
Baird Trust

Julia Minotti
Secretary
Humana

Freddie Brown
YMCA

Shannon Cogan
WAVE 3 News

Sam Corbett
Consultant

Tim Hagerty
Frost Brown Todd

Chrystal Hawkins
Chrystal Power Consulting

Desiré Hoyt
Scion Health

Matt Kummer
WAVE 3 News

Chris McGarvey
Heaven Hill

Ken Selvaggi
ESPN Louisville

Bill Shory
Fleur De Lis Communications

Berta Weyenberg
JCPS

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One Donation Can Change a Child's Life

Whether you’re donating a one-time or recurring gift, your money can change a child’s life here in Louisville. For just $50 you can cover the cost of the entire five year program for one child. A gift of $100 covers this cost for two children and $250 covers the cost for five children.