Belmont County, OH (WTRF)-Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Belmont County is touching the lives of young readers every day, and Governor Mike DeWine and the First Lady stopped by for a visit.

Whether it’s ‘The Little Engine That Could’ or another childhood favorite, the drawings and illustrations inside has these children captivated, as First Lady Fran DeWine flips the page.

Books like these have inspired Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

First Lady, along with Governor Mike DeWine visited Belmont County to celebrate how far the program’s come.

“It’s been extremely successful. We’ve got 47% of eligible kids signed up here, so we’re excited about that.”

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

The Imagination Library sends a book to a child a month from the time they’re born until they turn 5. It’s free for eligible families in Ohio.

It’s only been available in the Buckeye State for two years, but the program’s already helping the kids a lot in a short time.

“I think reading is so important for the kids. We, first of all, know a child’s brain is 80% developed by the time they turn 3 years old. So, we don’t want to waste those years. We want to get them thinking about words and meaning and books, just excited about books from the time they’re born.”

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

First Lady DeWine says it not only helps kids develop a love for reading, but also gets them ready for school.

“We also know that kids who receive these books for three years come up 15 points on the kindergarten readiness scale. They have a lot more success in having a successful school career.”

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

Right now, over 300,000 children are part of the program, but First Lady DeWine encourages even more to join the program.

“It’s just so simple to sign up. We just want to get a few more kids just to help us.”

Fran DeWine, First Lady of Ohio

First Lady Fran DeWine encourages parents with young children to get them signed up. Once again, it’s free if your kids are under the age of 5.

Just sign up at