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19 April 2012

Dolly Parton's UK Imagination Library today announced that it has reached a
major milestone by delivering its 500,000th free book to children across the
UK. The recipient is 11 month old Finley Theobold, from Luton who received
the special book along with a personal message from Dolly Parton. 

The international music star launched the UK Imagination Library in December
2007 with the first books being delivered in 2008.

Commenting on the UK Imagination Library’s hitting the half a million
milestone Dolly Parton Dolly Parton message said: "I can't believe we have
just mailed our 500,000th book in the UK! Little Finley Theobold from Luton
just received this very special book. I am so sorry I can’t be there to give
Finley his book in person, but just like every other month the postman will
be making this delivery for me."

"It was only just a few short years ago that we mailed our first books to
children in Rotherham. It’s hard to believe we have grown so much in such a
short time. We have come a long way but we have really only just begun. As
we celebrate this milestone I'd like to thank all of our local sponsors and
our partners who work so hard to make this all work for us.

The programme is now distributing, through Royal Mail, around 20,000 free
books every month to children between one month to 5 years of age in
communities across the UK. The Library, in partnership with the Scottish
Book Trust and the Scottish Government, is working at enrolling and sending
a free book every month to over 3,000 children who are looked-after by care
organisations in Scotland.

Royal Mail’s Chief Customer Officer Mike Newnham said: "We are delighted our
postmen and women across the UK are playing such a key role in the success
of the UK Imagination Library. Helping them hit the half a million book
delivery mark is something we are pleased to be part of."

The Imagination Library's partner in Luton is Wates Giving, which has funded
and distributed over 30,000 books so far in the area since its launch there
in 2010. Brian Wheelwright, Director of Wates Family Charities on
congratulated Finley said: 

“The Wates family, owners of the Wates Group, are proud to support the Dolly
Parton's Imagination Library and its contribution to developing the reading
skills of our future generations through the Wates Giving charitable
programme. Our involvement with the scheme demonstrates our significant
commitment to the communities in which Wates works, and we are thrilled that
a Luton child has benefited from this milestone book.”

A recent survey into the impact of the Imagination Library books on families
involved in the programme showed that 80 per cent of parents read more to
there children after receiving the books; that the children watched 25 per
cent less TV as they read more; and that three quarters of parents believed
the books had improved their child's development in speech, language and

The Imagination Library also recently announced it had delivered 40 million
books across the US, Canada and UK since the launch of the scheme to
children in Dolly’s home county of Sevier, Tennessee in 1996. The programme
is now replicated and sponsored locally by over 1,600 communities in the
three participating countries. 

Anyone wishing to find out more about how they can work with the Imagination
Library and bring it to pre-school children in their area should visit  

Link to a special video message from Dolly Parton to Finley below:

Dolly Parton message

Issued on behalf to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library by: 
Patrick O'Neill
Mobile: 07889 998052

 Four Countries Communications Email: info@fourcountries.co.uk

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