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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Collaboration

Providing young children who are blind and visually impaired with accessible books in print/braille and audio formats

A mother and child sitting in an armchair together wile reading a print/braille book. The child is wearing glasses.

How to get Print/Braille or audio books for your child.

APH and The Dollywood Foundation have collaborated to expand the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) program, providing young children who are blind and visually impaired with accessible books in print/braille and audio formats ensuring that all DPIL children and families are able to share and enjoy the books they receive.

side by side logos for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and Braille Tales

Free Print/Braille Books

Through APH’s Braille Tales program, families with children under six years old may receive six free Print/Braille books per year.

A mother and child sitting on the floor next to a bookcase reading a print/braille book together.

Free Audio Books

Audio files of our DPIL selections are also available for download. These books may only be played on a digital playback device loaned from the National Library Service (NLS) or another device approved by NLS.

A girl looking at a tablet and wearing earphones while reclining next to a window.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • APH has partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which offers free books to children from birth to age five in five countries, to provide selections in braille and audio book formats ensuring that all children and families are able to share and enjoy the books they receive.

    Each month, APH will record and post audio files of that month’s book selections to the APH/DPIL Audio Books page. This gives DPIL children and families who are unable to read print due to a visual impairment or physical disability a way to download and listen to the books. Braille versions of the DPIL books are available through APH’s Braille Tales program. To learn more about Braille Tales, or to apply for membership, please visit our Braille Tales page.

  • Yes. The DPIL digital audio book files available on the APH website can only be played using free playback equipment loaned to eligible individuals through the National Library Service (NLS) Talking Book program. A family will first need to register their child with NLS and receive an NLS digital playback device. Then they are set to visit the APH/DPIL website and download the encrypted DPIL audio book files. An additional benefit is that by registering their child with the NLS service, a wide range of NLS braille books, audio books, and magazines will be available for free loan to their child.

  • Print/Braille Books are available through APH’s Braille Tales program. By enrolling in Braille Tales, a child who is under six years of age is able receive five free print/braille books each year. APH selects five titles from the current year’s DPIL booklist each year —those most appropriate for a child with a visual impairment – for our Braille Tales program. Books are mailed directly to the child’s family.

    To be eligible for Braille Tales, a child must:

    • Be age 5 or under, and
    • The child and his/her parent or legal guardian must reside in the U.S. or its outlying areas (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands)
    • In addition:
      • The child must be likely to use braille as their future reading medium, OR,
      • The child’s parent(s) must be blind or visually impaired and use braille as their reading medium.

    Applications for the Braille Tales are accepted on a first come/first serve basis. Visit APH’s Braille Tales page to learn more or apply.

  • The Braille Tales print/braille books feature braille text on clear labels, applied directly to the print copy of the book. This allows a sighted parent to read aloud from the print text, while the young blind child feels the braille. Young children may not yet read the braille, but they gain important exposure to braille and opportunities to practice the hand movements for reading in braille. Meanwhile, children with typical vision can also share the book, see the print text, and view the book’s pictures, so, everyone gets to enjoy the book together! Another important audience is the parent or grandparent who reads braille. They will be able to read aloud to their sighted child/grandchild, who can see the print and the pictures.

  • Yes, other sources exist, but the number and variety of books available in print/braille is very limited. For that reason, books provided through our Braille Tales program are an important contribution to the literacy of young children who will read braille.

    Parents and teachers who are looking for other books in print/braille formats, may also check APH’s Louis Database of Accessible Materials to discover which braille producers, including APH, offer a particular book in braille. The National Library Service, for example, may have a braille copy of a title available for free loan. Other organizations, such as Seedlings, National Braille Press, or the Braille Institute may have a particular book in braille for loan or purchase.

    APH will not choose to braille a DPIL book that is already available from another source, such as NLS. Our goal is to expand the variety of print/braille books for children, not duplicate books that have already been provided in braille.

  • We all know the power of a good book and recognize that reading aloud with a young child, starting from birth, is the surest way to help them toward a love of reading. Taking the time to sit down with your child to read aloud and share a conversation about a book builds many positive things—skills the child will need for reading, as well as closer family ties!

    We also know that having books in the home, ones that are there to stay, is important to learning to read. Almost every child has books that are favorites—the ones they want to hear over and over again. Many children memorize the words, and pretend to read the book themselves. Next, they may actually begin to recognize and read some of those words, because they’ve seen and heard them so many times. This cannot happen when a favorite book has to go back to the library. This is part of why the Braille Tales program was created: To give children books they own, in their own home, ready to be read and shared as often as possible.

    We know having books in the home and reading aloud frequently is important for a child who can see, but it is even more important for a child who may one day be a braille reader. Children who are blind and visually impaired have very few things in their world that show them what braille is. Sighted children see signs, the print on the cereal box, books and magazines, recipes—print is everywhere they turn. A blind child doesn’t have that advantage. Sighted children can watch others read, but a blind child may not know when others around him are reading, writing, or using print.

    This makes it extra-important for blind children to have their own books in braille, to sit with an adult, listen to the book, and talk about the story—to discover the purpose of braille. They also need the chance to touch and examine the braille, sharpening their sense of touch and practicing the hand movements needed for reading braille. Yet there are few braille books for a young child to choose from, and they are usually expensive for families to buy. Print/braille books are even more costly and difficult to find. This imbalance won’t be solved by the APH/DPIL collaboration, but it will be improved, and may offer a model for others.

  • APH is grateful to receive contributions to the Braille Tales Program from individual donors. Though we receive generous support from funders annually, we are always seeking new contributions to cover the costs of the program. APH is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible. Your gift will help us to promote braille awareness and pre-literacy skills, and will ensure that young children across the country who are blind or visually impaired experience the joy of reading.

  • Costs associated with the program include: the purchase of children’s picture books; braille translation and embossing; book distribution; promotion of the program; and APH staff time for program facilitation and coordination. APH works with many partners in this effort, including the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, wherein individuals who are incarcerated gain employable skillsets for meaningful work upon reentry into society through braille transcription certification. Currently serving more than 1,800 families across the country, the program continues to grow year over year with new, young braille readers.