ARDMORE, Okla. (KTEN) — Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has announced the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is investing $2.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to expand the Imagination Library to all 77 counties.

The program helps to get books in children's hands at a young age. 

Once enrolled in the Imagination Library program, children five and under can receive five books a month at no cost. 

"It's really to work with our youngest learners so they are ready for kindergarten and ready to read when they arrive at school," Hofmeister said.

To make sure children in every county have access, the Department of Education is partnering with local organizations. The OSDE will match all funds raised by local community partners. 

"We announced the launch of this opportunity, so the matching funds are in place,” Hofmeister explained. “We have until 2024 to spend those, and we need to get those partners ready."

State Rep. Tammy Townley (R-District 48) and Sen. John Haste (R-District 36) authored the 2020 bill to secure the Imagination Library expansion funding. 

"It is a great deal and just amazing,” Townley said. ”As each county brings in their own money, it will be matched one-to-one for every dollar that each county brings in for each child born in their county." 

Hofmeister hopes the program's expansion has a lasting impact on Oklahoma's children. 

"The research shows a 15-20 percent gain in reading and academics for students who have these books every month coming to their home and are reading with their moms and dads and grandparents, family members on a regular basis," she said. 

Visit the OSDE Imagination Library page for more information on the program and how to become an affiliate or donor.