Free Books for Local Kids

Shire Kids is the local sponsor of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book-gifting program that mails a free new book to every child who is enrolled each month from birth to five years old. In our first year, Shire Kids has enrolled over 900 children in Bennington County and the town of Danby, and mailed over seven thousand age-appropriate books to the childrens’ homes. The number of children enrolled continues to grow every month.

Enrollment grew very quickly in the fall of 2019, thanks to local pediatricians, preschools, social care workers, and libraries who spread the word. Children eagerly await their book arriving in the mailbox each month! By the time the pandemic closed our schools and libraries, over 700 children were already receiving monthly books in the mail.

While the Imagination Library is free to the children enrolled, it costs Shire Kids approximately $25 per child for each year they participate in the program. The volunteers who run, manage and fundraise for Shire Kids are committed to keeping this program going and to eventually engage the communities with programs that will connect families around literacy. However, with our popularity and expanding enrollments, we need our communities’ support to help maintain the growing financial need. We are fortunate to receive some funding from sources including the Stratton Community Foundation, Charles R Wood Foundation, Stewart’s Shops, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and Vermont Country Store. We are seeking additional commitments of support from the towns we serve, local businesses, civic groups, and community members.

Along with the Imagination Library, Shire Kids has sponsored free community book swaps and a new story walk at Southern Vermont Arts Center. We are also working with local libraries and preschools to develop storytime programs around the Imagination Library books children receive each month.

Reading aloud is one of the most important developmental activities you can do with your baby throughout their childhood. Exposure to new words and sentence structures through books will help grow a child’s love of books and reading. A graduate of Shire Kids will have a home library of over 60 new books: Amazing! To learn more about Shire Kids, please visit our website at or contact us via email at Please consider making a donation to help cultivate young minds and future readers!