Dolly Parton's Book Scheme Rolls Out In Belfast

A local homebuilder is to nuture local children's love of reading by bringing Dolly Parton's book gifting scheme to Belfast with a £75,000 investment.

Hagan Homes will become the charity's local champion to ensure the rollout of the Dollywood Foundation in the city.

Established by the star in 2007, The Imagination Library sees thousands of children from birth to five years of age receive a free age-appropriate book in the post every month to support the development of early language and literacy skills and inspire a lifelong love of reading.

The books are carefully selected by a UK committee of experts and include popular favourites such as Peppa Pig and Spot the Dog.

Welcoming the announcement, Dolly Parton said: "I am so excited that my Imagination Library program is being offered to children in Belfast. I have always known that if we encourage children to dream, we give them the chance to live those dreams. There is no better way to encourage their dreams than gifting books to them.

"Now, thanks to Hagan Homes, children living in communities across Belfast will receive the gift of reading. I hope that we'll soon grow the program to reach many more children in Northern Ireland and inspire a love of reading that will last a lifetime."

Hagan Homes joins Cliftonville Integrated Primary School as the only other establishment to deliver the Imagination Library in Northern Ireland.
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Chair of the Co Antrim firm, James Hagan, commented: "We believe in investing in communities and in building community capacity. Strong communities are the bedrock of a strong society. We want to empower individuals to believe in their own potential and to achieve all that they can. Encouraging people to read and fostering creativity from an early age, is extremely important. We're delighted to be supporting The Dollywood Foundation UK as it introduces the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to Northern Ireland.

"Over the course of the next three years, Hagan Homes will provide £25,000 per year to provide 1,000 children, with a free age appropriate book every month."

The Imagination Library will be delivered in partnership with Sure Start to ensure all children are enrolled from birth and receive a high-quality, age appropriate book each month.

Families will receive the books to their homes for free.

Dr Marion Gillooly, Executive Director from The Dollywood Foundation UK, said the benefits of reading from an early age are multifaceted.

"Sharing books with a child – and the earlier the better – has a huge impact. The first 1001 days of life are a period of significant brain development, and there is a growing evidence base which demonstrates the positive impact of reading to a child during this important period. It helps the child learn to communicate, and over time supports the development of literacy, creative thinking and confidence. But just as importantly, reading at home is about spending time together and having fun, strengthening bonds and creating shared memories."


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