(official press release)

Books for Keeps to Become New Home for Clarke County Early Literacy Program


ATHENS, Ga. – Books for Keeps is proud to announce the addition of Clarke County Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program to our organization’s growing complement of whole-family services.

This program, previously run by United Way of Northeast Georgia, is an asset to children from birth to age five and their parents. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books for children from birth to age five to children from birth to age five, regardless of their barriers to book access.

This program, previously run by United Way of Northeast Georgia for the past nine years, has been an asset to our community’s children in building a life-long, foundational love of reading. Books for Keeps (BFK) will officially assume administration of the Clarke County portion of the program on October 1, 2021.  

“Bringing this well-loved, highly respected program under the growing umbrella of Books for Keeps’ family literacy programming makes so much sense, and it’s a thrill for Books for Keeps,” said Books for Keeps Program Manager Justin Bray. “As we have expanded to reach every elementary student in Athens, BFK has increasingly turned our attention to how we can build a greater foundation for success among our students. Becoming the new home for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will help us do that more intentionally and fully.” 

At Books for Keeps, children in Clarke County and their families are the focus, giving them access to resources that help them grow both their love of reading and their literacy skills. The first five years of a child’s life represent a critical developmental stage and, per data evaluations, children who receive these books score 10% higher on kindergarten literacy evaluations than their peers.

Meanwhile, Books for Keeps has followed a research-based model to distribute books to elementary school students, in recent years replicating the positive effects on students’ reading scores uncovered by a foundational study conducted by Robert Allington in the 2000’s. By welcoming the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program into this organization, it allows Books for Keeps to deepen its focus on the county’s youngest residents, following evidence-based book distribution models.

“United Way of Northeast Georgia is thrilled to re-home this program to an organization that is fully dedicated to its service county. This program is a perfect fit for these organizations, and we have confidence in them. Knowing that books will continue to arrive in the mailboxes of so many children in our region is so important. We are thankful for the volunteers who have made this program what it is, and we will continue to be big supporters and advocates for this program,” said Kay Keller, President & CEO of United Way of Northeast Georgia.

For those with children registered to receive Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library books, there will be no interruption of service. The transition from United Way of Northeast Georgia to Books for Keeps has already started and book delivery will continue as normal. For those who would like to donate to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, you can donate directly to Books for Keeps anytime, and all designated donations made to United Way of Northeast Georgia will be immediately directed to the respective new organizations.