Posted by John Ester on May 01, 2018
Nancy Grote and Jennifer Abel head up the Traverse City branch of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a book-giving program that mails free books to children in participating communities from birth until age five. 
Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 in her home county in Eastern Tennessee to foster a love for reading among preschool children and their families. Since then the program has grown to serve communities not only in various parts of the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.  To date the program has sent more than a 100 million books to more than a million kids.
The way the program works, local groups register children with the Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee, paying the Foundation $2.10 per month per child. Then each month the Foundation sends an age-appropriate book directly to the child until he or she is ready for kindergarten.
Nancy Grote organized the local affiliate in Traverse City in 2016. The group started small--with Interlochen--and has been expanding slowly, one zip code at a time. There are now 467 children in the program, including some in Lake Ann. Nancy and Jennifer are taking steps to bring the program to additional children in Benzie County but need funding to do that. With Michigan's literacy rates dropping, this seems to be a particularly important time for a program such as this one to succeed.