Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library expands to 15 NWT communities

Last modified: June 9, 2022 at 8:38am


There’s a new opportunity for kids across the NWT to pour themselves a cup of ambition this year – with some help from the Queen of Country herself.

The NWT Literacy Council announced this week it will support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in 15 of the territory’s communities this year.

In those communities, families can register any child aged under five to be mailed a free book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library every month until their fifth birthday.

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“The literacy council has been trying to do a territory-wide Dolly Parton Imagination Library program for many years, to complement the existing programs that have already been happening around the NWT, funded by other groups,” said Katie Johnson, the council’s program manager.

Those existing programs include one run by Fort Providence’s Deh Gah School and others in 16 communities supported by the BeautyMark Salon and Rotary E-Club of Canada One.

Thanks to funding from United Way NWT and the NWT government’s Healthy Choices Fund, the program will now benefit communities from Fort Good Hope to Dettah. It will also be available to Yellowknives Dene First Nation members living in Yellowknife.

For a full list of communities and how to sign up, see the NWT Literacy Council’s website.

Johnson said members of the newly included communities responded with immediate enthusiasm.

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“When our online signups went live this week, we had about 10 families who had already signed up for an alert for when it was live in their community,” she said.

“Even though the system wasn’t quite ready for them, they were ready, which is great.”

The NWT Literacy Council plans to include a family literacy activity package with each book, tailored to the story of the month.

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“The biggest goal is for families to be spending time together, reading books and then enjoying doing activities together,” Johnson said.

Building an at-home library can be life-changing in communities where access to age-appropriate books is limited.

“Fort Smith doesn’t have a book store, so this is a great way for families to get books they can keep,” said librarian Samantha Stokell at Fort Smith’s Mary Kaeser Library.

“Research has shown that having books in a child’s home promotes brain development, imagination, language and emotion development, and strengthens relationships, so we’re happy to help caregivers sign up for the program and benefit from this great opportunity.”

Parton began the program in her home state of Tennessee in 1995, to give more children access to high-quality, age-appropriate books in their home library. Her program is now offered throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland.

The NWT Literacy Council is looking for community support to help the program rollout. To learn more about getting involved, check out the council’s website or email Nicole Sharp.