Governor Haslam Recognizes Key Supporters of Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of the “Governor’s Sustaining Circle” to honor organizations that  contribute at least $50,000  annually to the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) in support of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee.

The Five Founding Members of the Governor’s Sustaining Circle have invested in the program since its inception and include:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Health Foundation
  • Delta Dental of TN
  • Dollar General Literacy Foundation
  • Nissan North America, Inc.
  • Volunteer State Health Plan

“We are grateful to these committed and generous supporters of the Books from Birth program,” Haslam said.  “It takes our state, private and corporate supporters and volunteers to keep this program strong.  It is a unique and dynamic public-private partnership that makes Tennessee the only statewide Imagination Library program in the country.”

“As this program prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year –   a decade of providing new, high-quality books  every month to our state’s youngest citizens – we want to  especially thank those sustaining partners who have been with  the program since the very beginning and who have really helped shape the  ongoing success of this initiative in Tennessee,”   First Lady Crissy Haslam said.

Each of five corporate founding members in the Circle, who have supported the statewide program since its beginning, received a framed copy of The Little Engine That Could signed by the governor and First Lady Haslam.  This book is the first one received by each child upon enrolling in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

“Sometime early this spring, a child enrolled in the Imagination Library program will receive the 20-millionth book delivered in Tennessee,” Carl said. “That is an accomplishment to be celebrated by all Tennesseans, due in large part to each of our sustaining donors, and to the hundreds of volunteers across all of Tennessee’s 95 counties who enroll children and raise their 50percent funding match. We are grateful to each of them.

“Impact studies from Shelby County to Knox County have shown that children receiving these books are more prepared to start kindergarten, have overall higher pre-K test scores, show a strong interest in learning to read and read more with their parents,”  Carl continued.  “As the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation reaches its 10th anniversary in 2014, we are proud to be a part of this celebration of partnerships that allows us to focus on enrollment and sustaining growth across the state.”

All of Tennessee’s 407,000 children under age five have access to the Imagination Library, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state.  Begun by Dolly Parton in 1996, the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income.  More than 18 million books have been delivered since the GBBF’s inception in 2004.  Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child.  With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors and a host of private corporate sponsors, the GBBF matches ($12 per book, per child) all funds raised by each of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program affiliates – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S. Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties.

An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home.  Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive to kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education.

Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later.  In a recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute, research showed that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.

About the GBBF

The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, puts free, high-quality, age-appropriate books in the hands of registered Tennessee preschoolers statewide. Its mission is to support the ongoing, statewide operation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – assisting all Tennessee preschool children by developing their vocabularies, boosting their school readiness, and fostering a love of learning and reading – and ensure that free, high quality, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month directly to these children’s homes, from birth until age five. To learn about enrolling a child or supporting the program, visit or call toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.