Dolly Parton Helps Blind Children Read For Free

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has provided over 34 million free books to children since 1996. Starting in 2012, they'll cross a new frontier by providing braille and audio books to blind children, thereby reaching an entirely new audience of aspiring readers. The program is the result of a partnership between two unique organizations united in their effort to help blind children discover reading.

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Breaking Down Barriers to Reading

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is determined that blindness won't be a barrier to reading for young children. By partnering with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Parton's organization has begun making audio books that are appropriate for children under age five available for download. In the last few months of 2011, over 35 audio titles are expected to be available. Beginning in 2012, braille books will be provided free of charge to two hundred eligible children. Five new braille titles will be created each year by APH and distributed by the Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton's Gift of Books

From her childhood days in Tennessee, Dolly Parton has been a lover of books. She is outspoken about her belief in the importance of providing books for young children in need. She believes that regular reading with children before they reach school age will set a critical foundation for success in their future education.

In 1996, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library began mailing a book each month to every child in Sevier County, her birthplace, until they reach age five and begin kindergarten. Each child starts with The Little Engine That Could and concludes the program with Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come. In 2000, the program expanded to hundreds of additional communities throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

A Partnership of Unique Organizations

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is notable for its efforts to provide free books to children in well over 1,000 communities in three countries. APH is a likewise unique organization and no ordinary printing house. Founded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1858, APH began its work before the Civil War. Congress declared APH the official provider of educational materials for blind students in 1879.

Today, APH uses a wide range of equipment to manufacture braille, audio, large print and computer-based reading materials. Their tools include braille dot-making machines from the 1800s. They also develop modern tools, such as a device for capturing and storing printed text as audio that's similar to an iPod. The partnership between the historic APH and the relatively new but thriving Imagination Library is poised to take the idea of accessibility to books to a whole new level.

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