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Inspired reading: New organization to bring Dolly Parton program to Carter County

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an amazing organization. It brings two age-appropriate books a month to children in participating communities, from birth until they start school, no matter their family income. Anyone can sign their child up, as long as there is a sponsoring organization in their community. 

Unfortunately there hasn’t been any sponsoring organization in Carter County. But, if Anna Chaffins has her way, her new organization – Inspired Reading – could change that and bring the book program to local children. 

Chaffins said she was inspired by reading with her child after work. 

“A while back I started my own business, Inspired Order of Grayson, an organizing and cleaning business,” she explained. After a day of working, she said, “I’d come home to my kid, who I don’t like to leave at all – she’s three – and she always wants to play, she always wants to do something. It’s hard after you come home to have time to do anything, but I try to make time, to set it aside as soon as I come home to do something special with her. So, I try to read with her, and I try to read with her throughout the evening.”

She explained it was important to her because reading was such an escape for her as a young woman, even with her dyslexia and dysgraphia, and it’s a love she wants to share with her daughter. She said if a child has an issue like she does, this kind of early reading can help them overcome it as she was able to. 

“You can’t take the disability away from your child if they do have it, but you can help your child learn to adapt to it,” she said. “So I’ve always tried to make that a priority with my daughter.” 

Reading with her daughter was already an established habit, but looking into resources for new books a while back, she explained, she came across information about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She thought it was a fantastic program, but was distressed when she discovered it wasn’t available in Carter County. So, she set out to change that. 

Chaffins has already reached out to the national organization, and contacted the director over our area. She has another meeting planned with them later this month, to update them on her progress with the program, but she still has some milestones she needs to hit before they can begin offering books. 

Her first hurdle is finding a non-profit to partner with her on the program, as that’s one of the requirements. Next she needs to begin finding sources of funding for the program, which is only a couple of dollars per child per month. After that she can get access to the Imagination Library’s database and, after learning to use the database to access available books, she can begin registering children. Once she has enough children registered she’ll be able to launch the program locally. 

The organization likes to have around five percent of local children signed up for the program at the time of launch. 

Chaffins plans to cover Carter and Boyd Counties at launch, because she lives in Carter County but Boyd County is both nearby and the Boyd County Public Library has been a favorite place for her to find new books – something that can be hard for lower income parents. 

“New books are expensive!” she said. But, like Dolly, she doesn’t think that cost should be a barrier to families who want to give their kids an early introduction to the joy books can bring. 

If you are interested in working with Chaffins and Inspired Reading to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Carter and Boyd Counties, either through your non-profit organization or as a financial supporter, you can reach her at inspiredreadingofcartercounty@gmail.com. 

You can find more information about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library online at https://imaginationlibrary.com/usa/. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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