More than 400 children in Decatur County are receiving free books in the mail each month thanks to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Decatur County.

In April 2022, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Decatur County in partnership with Memorial Hospital and Manor and Decatur County Family Connection launched a free book gifting program. Since the launch more than 200 babies delivered at Memorial received their first book and registered for the program before they left the hospital. Each of these babies receive a free book in the mail each month until that child turns 5. The free books are offered to all children under five in Decatur County, regardless of family income.

The first Decatur County baby registered for DPIL at Memorial Hospital, Blakely Palmer just celebrated her first birthday. When Blakely was born, her parents, Justin and Samantha Palmer, signed up Blakely and her older brother Knox for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Samantha  says, “It is very exciting every month to receive a book for each of my kids. All of the books we have received have been age appropriate and some even go with the season or holiday that is approaching. Being a teacher, literacy is important to me and it makes me happy to see my kids excited about getting new books. We have loved every book given and I can’t wait to see all of the others that are mailed.” Blakely and Knox each received 12 books this year from DPIL.

Hospital staff are also excited about the program. Labor Delivery Nurse Manager Judy Godwin says, “I love this idea because I love to read, and I have grandchildren who love to read.  The children benefit whether they are being read to or reading it themselves.” Memorial Labor/Delivery nurses make sure that each family knows about the program, helps to get the baby registered, and gives the family the baby’s first book, The Little Engine that Could.

While newborns and their siblings are registered at MHM, the program is open to all Decatur County children up to age five. All children are eligible to register with DPIL and receive books until their fifth birthday by visiting

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. This is achieved through funding shared by The Dollywood Foundation and Local Program Partners.  The Imagination Library mails more than 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled  children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More.

The program has been widely researched and results demonstrate its positive impact on early childhood development and literacy skills. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit