LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library nearly 30 years ago to inspire a love of reading in children. This week, the program became available to children in Laurens County.

“If you live in Laurens County, you can sign up,” Tanya Wilson, the principal of Eastside Elementary School, said. “We encourage you to do that immediately.”

All children under the age of five are eligible to participate. Once they are signed up, they will receive a book in the mail each month until their fifth birthday.

“By kindergarten, they’ll have a whole library of books,” Kathy Lapomarda, the literacy specialist for Laurens County School District 56, said.

The program is free for all families. It is being funded through a partnership between Parton and First Steps Laurens County.

“It’s the best decision you will make for your child, truly,” Wilson said. “You need to be reading with them. Get free books. Why not? There’s no reason to not get them.”

Wilson and Lapomarda told 7NEWS exposing children to books is key for their development and education.

“It will help your child become a better reader,” Wilson said. “It will help them become a reader at an earlier age. Once they become a reader, then we have set them up for life.”

“If your children are reading at home, we can see it as soon as they walk into kindergarten,” Lapomarda added. “It helps children get ready for school. It helps them increase their vocabulary. It helps them learn how to sit still and cuddle on somebody’s lap. Research shows that the best thing you can do as a parent for a child is to read.”

To sign a child up for the program, click here.