Charleston Coalition For Kids & Palmetto Project Gifting 7,200 Books To Lowcountry Children

Story by Nichole Stevens / June 6, 2023

Dorchester Branch Library Hosting Family Storytime With Chris Singleton to Celebrate the Expansion

Charleston, SC – A world of endless possibilities unfolds when a child opens a book. In an effort to ignite a love for reading in every Lowcountry child, the Charleston Coalition For Kids, The Library Foundation, and Palmetto Project are thrilled to announce the North Charleston expansion of BEGIN WITH BOOKS, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library affiliate in Charleston County. Together, they will gift 7,200 books to 1,200 children under the age of five in two zip codes in North Charleston.

Founded by Dolly Parton and inspired by her father’s inability to read, The Imagination Library aims to inspire a love of reading and promote early literacy. The philanthropic support for the expansion of this program creates an opportunity for every child in the 29418 and 29420 zip codes to receive one high quality, age-appropriate book per month, delivered directly to their homes.

The goal of the donation is to drive measurable growth in early literacy in our local community. The statistics:

  • 51% of grade K-8 students in Charleston County School District were reading below grade level last year.
  • 83% of Black and 73% of Hispanic third-grade CCSD students in 2022 did not meet reading level expectations.
  • Over 90% of parents in surveys said having books delivered to their homes made their children more interested in books, including 64% who said their children were much more interested in reading.
  • Studies have shown that participants in the Imagination Library program have more developed early literacy skills than their classmates not in the program.

Virginia Jamison, North Charleston City Councilwoman and BEGIN WITH BOOKS volunteer, expressed her enthusiasm, saying, “Since I began volunteering for Begin With Books in 2017, I have been delighted to witness their expansion to include all children under the age of 5 in North Charleston. I firmly believe that education is power, and it starts with reading because reading is essential.” She continued, “At my first event, I was captivated by the expressions on the children’s faces. This Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative paves the way for early learning, family involvement, and integrates books into the early childhood experience. I applaud the efforts of the BEGIN WITH BOOKS initiative and all the dedicated volunteers.”

To celebrate the expansion of BEGIN WITH BOOKS, the Dorchester Road Library will host a special Family Storytime featuring Chris Singleton, an inspirational speaker and writer. Following the Storytime session, Singleton will be available to sign free copies of his book, “Different: A Story About Loving Your Neighbor.” The event will take place on Wednesday, June 7 at the Dorchester Road Library Dorchester Road Library, 6325 Dorchester Rd, North Charleston. This collaborative effort marks a significant milestone in promoting early childhood literacy and fostering a lifelong love for reading among the children of the Lowcountry. Together, through the power of books, we can shape a brighter future.

About Charleston Coalition for Kids

We’re an organization supported by parents, educators, policymakers, and community leaders who have joined together to demand positive improvement and success for all schools and students in Charleston. To spark real and lasting change, we must build common ground and rally the community to improve our schools and bring more opportunities to every K-12 student in our state.

About the Library Foundation

The Board of the Library Foundation is committed to furthering the goals of the original founders of the Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley County Public Library systems, sometimes in ways the founders never considered (e.g., electronic books) but ways they surely would have embraced…all with the aim of continually improving and enriching the Lowcountry.

About Palmetto Project

Palmetto Project is a statewide nonprofit organization based in Charleston, whose mission is to identify innovative approaches to social and economic challenges facing South Carolina. Through special partnerships with governments, businesses, civic groups, schools, and religious organizations, Palmetto Project strives to bring a fresh entrepreneurial spirit to the challenge of building successful communities in a great state. The organization has been the catalyst for more than 350 successful public-private partnerships that have helped change South Carolina for the better.  


Since becoming the Dolly Parton Imagination Library affiliate in Charleston in 2010, BEGIN WITH BOOKS has worked to improve kindergarten readiness by providing the county’s youngest children with easy access to quality books that are age and developmentally appropriate and culturally diverse. The book-by-mail program provides a measurable, sustainable advantage in the long-term educational achievement of children by improving their pre-school home literacy environment. In Charleston County, there are currently 5,233 children enrolled and 492,621 books have been delivered to 15,995 children since 2010.

About Charleston County Public Library (CCPL)
CCPL connects the Charleston County community to information, fosters lifelong learning, and enriches lives. CCPL is the path to cultural heritage, a door to resources of the present, and a bridge to opportunities in the future. More than just a place to find books, movies, and other materials, libraries are dedicated spaces to promoting literacy, educational success, workforce development, and community engagement. For more information on CCPL, visit or visit your local library branch.