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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Now Open in Capital Region

CASTL brings library to area with support from Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning

ENOLA, Pa. – October 26, 2023 – The Center for Advanced Teaching and Learning (CASTL), a 501(c)(3) non-profit exclusively affiliated with the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU), is pleased to announce that registration for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Dauphin and Perry counties is now open. Renowned singer-songwriter Dolly Parton launched Imagination Library in 1995 in her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. The program has grown into a nationwide book gifting program that has provided more than 211 million books to children from birth to age 5.

“We are so excited to have been the driving force behind bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to the Capital Region,” said Dr. Andria Saia, executive director of the Capital Area Intermediate Unit. “We know from copious amounts of research that early access to books in the home is one of the single biggest predictors of academic success, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is unparalleled in providing access to those books.”

“Academically, children growing up in homes without books are on average three years behind children in homes with lots of books, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. Having books in the home has been shown to increase a child’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention, and even job attainment later in life,” Dr. Saia said. “Research demonstrates that 61% of America’s low-income children are growing up in homes without books, and many live in ‘book deserts’ where there are no libraries in their schools or communities as well.  The percentage of families living in poverty in the capital region is alarming, ranging from 7.6% in Cumberland County to 8.5% in Perry County, and 11.6% in Dauphin County.”

Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning, Harrisburg Center Director Malissa Lorenzo (Doster)

To bring the initiative to Dauphin County, Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS), which serves children from six weeks to age 5 from under-resourced and over-burdened backgrounds, has sponsored CASTL’s efforts to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library locally. CHS recently opened its first Early Childhood Education Center in Hershey, PA, with plans to open additional Dauphin County locations in Harrisburg, opening in 2024, and Middletown, opening in 2025. The CHS program leverages a whole child and family success approach designed to provide high-quality education and integrated family services to support children in the classroom and at home.

Registration is now open for both Dauphin and Perry counties. To register a child, click here.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning are subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School and will be staffed and operated independently of the Milton Hershey School core model.

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.