COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio has hit a new milestone in its Imagine Library this month, becoming the state with the highest percentage of kids enrolled in the U.S.

“So, a state like Tennessee has been doing it for a long time and they have a higher percentage,” explained First Lady Fran DeWine, who launched the Ohio program. “But we have more kids getting it every month than any other state.”

According to our partners at WLWT, the Ohio segment of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library launched in March of 2020, and quickly gathered an enthusiastic response. As of December, 43 percent of Ohio children five and under, or 301,457 kids, are now enrolled in the program.

These children will receive a new book in the mail every month until they turn 6 years old.

This literacy program hopes to take advantage of the fact that a child’s brain may be 80% developed by the age of three. A Children’s Hospital study showed after three years in the program, children were 15 points higher in the kindergarten readiness category.

Fran DeWine was inspired to launch this program after meeting Parton in Cleveland five years ago, WLWT said. Parton spoke about how the Imagination Library was helping children in Tennessee to read, and DeWine knew she wanted to give Ohio children the same opportunity. And they always start with the same book.

 “No matter what time the kids, how old the kids are when they start the Imagination Library, the very first book they get is ‘The Little Engine That Could’,” she said while holding several of the most popular mailings. “That’s Dolly Parton’s favorite.”

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Ohio Imagination Library, click here to sign up.