Strengthening Early Literacy in Tennessee
In 1996, country music star Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. The program mailed one book a month to enrolled children from birth to age five at no cost to the families. In 2004, Tennessee’s then-governor Phil Bredesen wanted to give the gift of books to all children in Tennessee, so he formed Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) to expand the Imagination Library program statewide. In January of 2020, the organization celebrated 15 years of the Foundation’s work in building a love for reading in Tennessee’s children, and turned the page to the next chapter in its story to serve the early literacy needs of Tennessee. Thus, Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is now officially known as Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF)—a name that reflects its mission and recognizes its role as an early literacy advocate in Tennessee.