GAEF expands Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program that started providing free books earlier this year to young children who live in the Greencastle-Antrim School District is branching out to Mont Alto and Fayetteville, and a grant to being sought to add Waynesboro to the list.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides a free book monthly to millions of children from birth through age 5 across the country and around the world. A child who begins the program at birth will have a personal library of 60 books by the time they start school.

In a letter on the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library website, the singer and actress says:

“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.”

The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation received a a $6,800 grant from the Franklin County Community Foundation, a regional foundation of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, for the startup funds to be a regional affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2019.

Anonymous donors have made a five-year commitment to cover the costs in Fayetteville's 17222 zip code and Mont Alto's 17237 zip code. GAEF is seeking another Foundation for Enhancing Communities grant to expand to Waynesboro's 17268 zip code. The books are free for the children, but promotional materials and administrative costs are about $25 per year per child.

There are currently 135 children who live in Greencastle and Antrim Township receiving books, plus six who turned 5 since registration started in March and "graduated" from the program, according to Cheryl Brown, GAEF executive director.

GAEF’s mission is to impact every student's experience and “as an education foundation, we felt we have to start with preschool. It adds to GAEF’s impact to enhance the lives of all children, not just school age, so to me this is the perfect fit," according to Brown, who said when GAEF became a regional affiliate that she hoped to expand to other areas of Franklin County.

"GAEF wants to put books into the hands of as many children as possible," Brown said. "A lot of people have been contacting us who want us to expand to their area."

Brown said the Dolly Parton Imagination Library matrix indicates there are nearly 1,000 children in the Greencastle-Antrim area who are eligible for the program and more than 2,000 in the Waynesboro area.

“With the national focus on preschool learning and the enormous benefits of reading to our children, GAEF is proud and honored to add preschool learning to the other areas of impact that it enhances on a daily basis for students, teachers and the community at large,” Brown said.

The first book every child receives from the library is “The Little Engine That Could," followed monthly by age-appropriate books. The final book when a child turns 5 is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.”

Registration information 

Registration forms are available at Sunnyway Foods and Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle and at the Mont Alto Post Office or by emailing:


Forms can be downloaded at:



GAEF also welcomes donations toward the program, which can be made via the website or by mail at G-AEF, P.O. 623, Greencastle, PA 17225.