Kids Can Dream Big with Books

When a child finds a book they love, it can be magical. 

Reading opens new worlds. With a book, kids can imagine new places, think about new ideas and see themselves as anything they want to be. Reading is also the foundation for all learning. Learning math, science, technology, history – mastering all of these subjects requires kids to have strong reading skills.

United Way of Central Illinois is proud to partner with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to bring new, free books to preschool age children in Sangamon County. Since launching the program, we have provided more than 160,943 books to help children across Sangamon County share the joy of reading at home.

Children who are registered for the program will receive an age appropriate book in the mail from birth until their fifth birthday. By age five, children can end up with a 60 volume set of books and more importantly a jump start on lifelong learning. 

Too many children enter school without even the basic skills they need to learn to read. Across the country, one in four kids grows up not knowing how to read at a basic level.1 The statistics are more grave for children who come from under-resourced neighborhoods. Three in five families who struggle to make ends meet have no books in their homes for their children.2

Are you interested in signing your child up for the program? Click the botton below!

We’re proud of the success of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, but we can do more. One $130 gift sponsors one child for their entire time on the program or a gift of as little as $11 a month.  Help kids fall in love with books and fuel a love of literacy among Sangamon County and Menard County kids.

If you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to contact, Katrina Hays, Director of Community Impact at United Way of Central Illinois by calling 217.726.7000 or emailing

Watch the episodes below to read along with Dolly Parton


1National Assessment of Educational Progress

2Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study