(Bowling Green, Kentucky) – On August 25, 2016, all children under the age of five enrolled at The Foundry Christian Community Center in Bowling Green were officially adopted into United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program as a result of a donation made by Wendy’s of Bowling Green. As a result of this generosity, all children currently enrolled at The Foundry will now receive one book per month mailed directly to their home until they reach the age of five, at no cost to their families. This adoption comes on the heels of a recent adoption of the Family Enrichment Center’s Wee Care Nursery into the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program in June of 2016 also made possible by Wendy’s of Bowling.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was initiated in east Tennessee in 1995 by Dolly Parton. Since its inception, over 80 million books have been distributed to children across four countries.  Recognizing the need to strengthen and support early literacy efforts and to ensure all young children get the best start possible, United Way of Southern Kentucky brought Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to Southern Kentucky in 2011. Support of the Imagination Library from generous contributions like those made by Wendy’s of Bowling Green help to ensure that children in our communities have access to books, thereby increasing their chance for future success. Thus far, more than 104,000 books have been mailed to over 5,800 children across Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Warren Counties.

At age three, children whose parents read to them daily for at least two preceding years have significantly higher language and cognitive scores. The frequency of reading is associated with children’s higher language and cognitive scores at the current age and at later ages. According to FirstBooks, “in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, but in low income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age appropriate book for every 300 children.” Finally, 75% of students who are reading at a below grade level in 3rd grade will remain behind in high school.

United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library increases the accessibility of age-appropriate books in all households. The first book mailed to each child is “The Little Engine That Could” and upon graduating the program, the month the child turns 5, they receive “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.”  When age-appropriate books are accessible in the home, children gain an appreciation for reading and are better prepared for kindergarten. The program is designed to build a stronger community by ensuring all children have access to the essential tools to build stronger literacy skills.  

Support of programs like United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program is just one way that United Way is working to reach its Big Bold Goal in Education of increasing BRADD Kindergarten Readiness scores from 49.4% to 75% by the year 2020. For more information about United Way’s work in Education and how you can join the fight to give all children in Southern Kentucky the best start for a successful future, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at  

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives in our community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community.