An estimated 4 million books will have gone to more than 350,000 Maine children.

PORTLAND – MaineHealth announced that the childhood literacy program it has administered will now help make way for the ongoing roll out of the nationally-celebrated Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library into Maine. Raising Readers will wind down its independent program in 2024 and offer advisory support for the Imagination Library.

As first announced by Gov. Janet Mills and the State of Maine last year, the Dollywood Foundation is poised to launch its highly successful national reach into Maine. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has distributed more than 200 million books and was most recently implemented in California.

Raising Readers has been funded by the Portland-based Libra Foundation, and the program administered by MaineHealth, in collaboration with Northern Light Health. Program funding provided by Libra will conclude in the coming months. Raising Readers has been in place in Maine for 23 years, providing free books for children from the time of their birth through age five through their pediatric health providers.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library covers the very same aged children with free books at the rate of up to one per month. Sign up and administration of the new program will be conducted through the Maine State Library System.

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming support the Libra Foundation has given to the children of Maine through Raising Readers for more than two decades,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, MaineHealth chief health improvement officer. “Through Libra’s support and in collaboration with partners statewide, Maine children have been given a head start on literacy, year after year. We look forward to a vibrant new chapter in childhood literacy efforts in Maine.”

Raising Readers annually partners with approximately 1,600 pediatric providers at hospitals, midwiferies and primary care offices at about 325 sites statewide. By the time Raising Readers concludes in 2024, it is estimated it will have provided 4 million books to more than 350,000 Maine children over its lifetime, helping to improve childhood literacy in the state. Over the past 23 years, virtually every child born in Maine has received books from Raising Readers.