Governor Kelly to Welcome Dolly Parton to Kansas for Imagination Library of Kansas Statewide Celebration

TOPEKA — Governor Laura Kelly announced today that on  Monday, August 14, 2023, American icon Dolly Parton will visit Kansas to celebrate the statewide success of her Imagination Library program at a closed event hosted by the Imagination Library of Kansas.

Starting today, every child in Kansas from birth to age five can receive free books every month from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This is made possible through increased funding provided to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund by Governor Laura Kelly and the Kansas Legislature. These funds supplement local and regional resources to ensure equitable opportunity across the state. The Imagination Library has gifted over 200 million books worldwide since its launch in 1995.

“I am pleased that we have reached this amazing milestone – being able to provide the gift of reading for children and families across Kansas,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “We know that a child’s first five years are critical for health development and childhood literacy. By increasing access to the Imagination Library, we will be nurturing a love for reading and supporting the foundation of a child’s social-emotional, physical, and cognitive future. I urge all eligible Kansas families to sign their children up for the Imagination Library of Kansas.”

The early childhood period (birth to five years) is the most influential for a child’s future, providing the foundation for a child to grow, learn, and thrive. Leaders across Kansas have been focused on developing strategies to promote early literacy and support educators, parents, and families in fostering commitments to reading. Forming an Imagination Library of Kansas is a significant step towards actualizing these goals by placing books directly in the child’s home.

Pratt, Kansas, has the distinction of starting the first Imagination Library site outside Tennessee in 2005. Today, Kansas is celebrating over 52,200 children enrolled and celebrating the milestone of gifting more than 3.8 million books to children since 2005.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995 to foster a love of reading for the children within her home county. Today, her program mails over 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to children’s homes each month. Each child enrolled in the program receives one book per month until their fifth birthday – at no cost to families. The program’s impact has been widely researched, and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit

For more information about the Imagination Library of Kansas, visit

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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