United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Connecting With Thousands of Children

A scene from a video production in progress. Photo providedA scene from a video production in progress. Photo provided

By: Juli Metzger—

Muncie, IN—There are nearly 1,000 children in Delaware County receiving free books each month as part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. And now, those books have been paired with educational and entertaining videos.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, offered by the United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties, is a program that provides children ages newborn to 5 years old with a free monthly, high-quality book.

The United Way has partnered with Ball State University’s public television station WIPB, the Office of Community Engagement and the Department of Theatre and Dance to create videos for each of the books in the Imagination Library.

In these “Story Station” videos, theater students read the books aloud, while pages of the books appear on screen.

“The Department of Theatre and Dance jumped at the opportunity to share books and the joy of reading with the Muncie community,” said Sarah Jenkins, managing director in the department. “It was a great way for our students to contribute their storytelling talents and make a positive impact.”

United Way President & CEO Jenni Marsh discovered that some adults wanting to register their children for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library struggled to read the form they needed to fill out. “I knew they needed a little extra help. So, I went to our friends at Ball State, because I knew if adults who were low-readers themselves could hear and watch the stories being read, they could enjoy the books more with their children.”

WIPB has produced nearly 30 videos so far and plans to produce more in 2020.

The videos are given to families enrolled in the Imagination Library program, and will be available to view on the United Way website and YouTube. WIPB also plans to air the videos during its PBS Kids programming blocks.

“We were thrilled to be a part of this project with United Way,” said Michelle Kinsey, Community Engagement Manager for WIPB-TV. “Early childhood education is a big part of our mission at the station, so this project was a perfect fit for us.”

To conquer generational poverty, UWDCHC has adopted the bold goal that by 2024 all third graders will be reading at grade level — the single greatest indicator of a child’s success in school and life.

This project, like so many others, is another way United Way is helping put children on a pathway out of poverty through better educational outcomes.


About United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties

United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties focusing resources on education, health, and financial stability. The nonprofit fights to create lasting change in community conditions. With its bold goal to reach grade-level reading by 2024, United Way works to help children read at or above grade level by the end of their third-grade year. Learn more at InvitedToLiveUnited.org.