An expanded initiative will provide free books for young children across North Carolina. Forsyth County officially launched Dolly Parton's Imagination Library this week.

Children enrolled in the program receive a new, age-appropriate book mailed to their home every month until their 5th birthday. The North Carolina General Assembly included $10.5 million in its most recent budget to implement the Imagination Library across the state. Some counties are already covered, others are in the process of rolling out the program.

Smart Start of Forsyth County is the local partner in the project. CEO Larry Vellani says over 1,700 children are already signed up.

“The Foundation's idea is based upon the science of brain development," Vellani says. "We know that reading and working on vocabulary in any language fosters high-quality positive brain development, and when we have positive high-quality brain development, that child has so many more opportunities in his or her life, and that child will get off to the right start.”

The program was started by country music star Dolly Parton to encourage a love of reading in her home county in eastern Tennessee. Parents can find information about how to participate on the Imagination Library website.

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