KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Sullivan County Imagination Library celebrated gifting its one millionth book Saturday.

News Channel 11 spoke with Sullivan County Imagination Library’s Board President Sandra Little, who said that as a former educator, she believes these books are paramount in a child’s development.

“It has a huge impact,” Little said. “Even just having books within the home — all the research studies show that books in the home have a huge impact on even whether the children complete high school or if they go to college.

“So, we’re giving books to kids who don’t have any books, but the books are also going out to families who can well afford books but don’t really know what quality books are for children.”

According to Little, children born in Bristol Regional Hospital, Indian Path and both hospitals in Johnson City are registered for the Imagination Library from birth at no cost to the parents.

Eighty percent of Sullivan County children who are within the qualifying age bracket are signed up to receive the books, said Little.

While the books are free to families, Imagination Library localities pay for a portion of the book fees, which ranges anywhere from $6,500 to $7,000 a month in this area, according to Little. These funds are secured by the program, which also covers shipping fees.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted over 150 million books since the program launched in 1995. These books have mailed out to children in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and The Republic of Ireland.

More than 1.7 million books are mailed out each month to registered children from birth to 5 years of age.

Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Parton’s Imagination Library.