We have chosen to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library again, doubling its investment to £150,000 and bringing the total number of books it will have delivered to children here to over 100,000 over six years.
We are committing to supporting the literacy needs of young children here by renewing our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which we have been involved in for the past three years.
We hope this move will encourage other local businesses and individuals to do the same, no matter how large or small the donation, to benefit all young children in Northern Ireland and leave an invaluable legacy of literacy.
With our new commitment of £150,000, even more children in Belfast are set to benefit from the Imagination Library which posts age-appropriate books to children, aged from 0 to 5 years old, connected to nine Sure Start Centres across the city.
The benefits of this programme include boosting children’s literacy skills and advancing their communication ability, as well as helping build stronger family bonds.
Since we first supported Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2020, it has been behind the delivery of some 34,808 books to almost 2,000 children in Belfast.
With our new commitment, it is envisaged that over 70,000 books will be delivered in total to approximately 2,000 children in Belfast over the next three years.
The Imagination Library, which began in Sevier County, Tennessee was set up by US country music star Dolly Parton in 1995, and was brought to the UK in 2007. The programme sees millions of children globally receive a free, age-appropriate book in the post each month from birth until their fifth birthday to support the development of early language and inspire a lifelong love of reading.
The Dollywood Foundation provides the infrastructure behind the programme, but it is made accessible to children in different locations through partnerships with what the charity calls ‘local champions’. Champions can be businesses, education authorities, small or large organisations, or simply individuals who share in the mission and purpose of the Imagination Library.
Here, in Belfast, we have taken on that role in 2020 in partnership with nine Sure Start centres.
Five years prior to that, former Cliftonville Integrated Primary School Principal Brenda McMullan set up the first Imagination Library in Northern Ireland before she retired. She is now a member of the organisation’s UK book selection committee.
Chair and Founder of Hagan Homes, James Hagan, said: “When we first started working with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2020, we were aware of Brenda’s hard work at Cliftonville, and we wanted to support what she started by boosting the number of children who could benefit from the programme in the city.
“The feedback since from the parents and children who are benefitting from the books in the Belfast area has been overwhelming and it is a clear indicator that reading at an early age is about so much more than words and pictures on paper. Reading during the early years at home nurtures family relationships, boosts communication and sets a sturdy foundation for learning in the coming years.
“At Hagan Homes, we’re not just about building homes in communities but we’re about building communities; enriching them and the people that populate them and I feel this is a moral obligation of all businesses in the community — to invest in the future generation’s education.
“For every year we celebrate in business, we feel gratitude and a debt to the communities that have helped us build our business and we’re delighted to pair with the Library via the nine Sure Start Centres in Belfast to continue Dolly Parton’s drive to foster creativity and literacy skills from an early age.
“We would recommend other individuals and businesses sign up for the programme to help support the young children in their local areas. It’s a worthwhile and rewarding scheme that sets our future generations up for years.”
Dr Marion Gillooly, Executive Director from The Dollywood Foundation UK, said:
“In the UK, one in eight children live in a household without books, but we are trying to change that in partnership with local champions, including Hagan Homes, who we are delighted to have on board for another three years.
“By supporting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Hagan Homes is helping change children’s lives, delivering books directly to their homes at no cost to the family. Children receive one age-appropriate book every month, to keep and enjoy forever.
“Every penny invested in the Imagination Library is spent directly on the costs of the books for children in the local community, with the Dollywood Foundation covering the administrative and overhead costs of the programme. This means your funding will directly impact the lives of children and families in Northern Ireland.
“Through the Imagination Library all children can have books at home, no matter their family circumstances, developing a lifelong love of reading and building the fundamental language and literacy skills they need to succeed.”
Speaking about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative, a Belfast parent said:
“A’s first book arrived during lockdown and was a little ray of light in a dark time when I felt very isolated. We have read the book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, every night and I’m sure we both know it verbatim by now! We eagerly await next month’s Imagination adventure.”
If you are an individual or company who like to find out more about how you can invest in local children’s literacy skills and help Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Northern Ireland, please go to