Danville girl part of Dolly Parton program milestone
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Cana Beth Waynick, 13 months old, isn't quite sure what all the fuss is about, but she knows it must have something to do with her favorite book and that pretty blonde lady she met in Tennessee.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library marked a milestone Dec. 12 when Parton presented Cana Beth, daughter of John Mark and Carrie Waynick of Danville, with the organization's one-millionth book at a special ceremony held in Dollywood's Showstreet Palace Theatre.
A giant edition of "The Little Engine That Could" was made especially for Cana Beth and signed by Parton to commemorate the event.
" 'The Little Engine That Could' was the first book Cana Beth received from the Imagination Library," Carrie said. "I think it's her favorite of all the books we've received so far because it has the most bite marks in it. She wants to read it almost every night."
The Imagination Library was established in 1996 for preschool age children in Parton's native Sevier County, Tenn. To promote the importance of reading to children in the first five years of life, each child receives one book each month until age five.
The program has since expanded to serve 255 communities in 34 states, including Danville-Neel and Falkville in Morgan County.
"We read about the program in the newspaper and signed up at Danville-Neel Elementary when it was first offered in April," Carrie recalled. "Cana Beth loves books and loves to be read to."
Danville-Neel Principal Jeremy Jones said 74 children in the Danville-Neel area from birth to age five have also joined the reading program.
"Now, we've had some stories at Danville-Neel, but this one is truly unique," Jones said. "As much as our school and community truly recognizes literacy, to have one of our future students receive the one-millionth Dolly Parton Imagination Library book is really amazing."
Jones said Danville-Neel residents are invited to stop by the school and signup for the program at any time.
"The program is ongoing and word is spreading across the community," Jones said. "It's making a difference by bridging the literacy gap from home to school and birth to school."
Cana Beth's special book, which is taller than the toddler, was not the only prize the Waynick family received. Parton brought the family to Dollywood for a two-night stay, a special dinner, the presentation ceremony, and tickets for Parton's annual Christmas concert.
"And we got to meet Dolly," Carrie said. "Cana Beth loved the rhinestones and all the sparkly stuff on her outfit and was just mesmerized by Dolly's long fingernails."
Cana Beth is also mesmerized by her big book.
"She keeps pointing at it and trying to get it," Carrie said with a smile. "She wants it so badly, but I think this book won't get chewed on. We'll probably find a very special place for it on the wall in her room."