MIDSTATE, Pa. (WHTM) — The Center for Advanced Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is affiliated with the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) has announced that registration is open for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The library was launched in 1995 by Parton in her hometown located in Sevier County Tennesee and has grown into a nationwide book gifting program. It has gifted over 211 million books to children from birth up to five years old.

“We are so excited to have been the driving force behind bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to the Capital Region,” said Dr. Andria Saia, Executive Director of the Capital Area Intermediate Unit. “We know from copious amounts of research that early access to books in the home is one of the single biggest predictors of academic success, even positively impacting employment later in life, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library i unparalleled in providing access to those books.”

CASTL states that Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS), which serves children from six weeks to age 5 from under‐resourced and over‐burdened backgrounds, has sponsored its efforts to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library locally.

“Academically, children growing up in homes without books are on average three years behind children in homes with lots of books, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education Having books in the home has been shown to increase a child’s academic success, vocabulary development attention, and even job attainment later in life,” Dr Saia said. “Research demonstrates that 61% of America’s low‐income children are growing up in homes without books, and many live in ‘book deserts’ where there are no libraries in their schools or communities as well. The percentage of families living in poverty in the capital region is alarming, ranging from 7.3% in Cumberland County to 9.8% in Perry County, and 13.2% in Dauphin County.”

To register a child, click here.