How Dolly Parton is helping kids in Virginia

How Dolly Parton is helping kids in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. — Dolly Parton is coming to Richmond! Well, not the country music star, personally (although, that’s a possibility — keep reading to find out how), but the international free book program that she founded.

is now available in Richmond for families with children under five years old to sign up and get a free book sent to them once a month

The program is being run locally by the Richmond-based nonprofit . They run literacy programs throughout the country, including “” which began at Fox Elementary and has an entire school, from staff to students, reading the same book at the same time.

“It was a perfect opportunity for us to go into the zero-to-five space, which we needed and to start the love of reading from birth on,” said program director Kimberly Fehrs.

Throughout all their programs, the nonprofit said they encourage caregivers to read to their children.

“There’s tons of research supporting the fact that reading out loud to children, especially at a young age, gives them a tremendous advantage and being ready for school and then being successful in school,” said Christa Donohue, Read to Them’s executive director. “Not only are they being exposed to vocabulary that they might not normally be exposed to. They’re also learning how books work, that turning the pages in this direction is how a book works. The cadence of what reading sounds like. And they’re also building bonds with their caregivers.”

Read to Them will handle the registration of the local programs, plus the costs of the books and shipping. They had intended to launch in October, but word of mouth accelerated their plans and they already have 850 signed up.

Fehrs said the program is successful they intend to expand to the surrounding counties in one to two years.

She added if Richmond gets to 64% enrollment of its roughly 13,500 children in the age range, Parton will come to the city for a celebration.

You can . Organizers said it will take about six to eight weeks before you receive your first book.

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