About Us


The Charlotte County Imagination Library is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which originated in Sevierville, Tennessee in 1996. The Imagination Library has grown to serve over 1.5 million children across the United States as well as Canada, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom.

The Charlotte County Imagination Library was launched in 2011 by local salon and spa business owner Shawn Gilstad of The Purple House Salon. Growing up in Tennessee Shawn had seen firsthand what a difference the gift of literacy could mean for the children of a community. Shawn’s vision of bringing the gift of literacy to Charlotte County children required that he partner with an established 501(c)3 Non-Profit. Shawn joined forces with Sherrie Moody of the Charlotte Players, the oldest 501(c)3 in Charlotte County, and a great partnership was formed which continues today.

In 2021, the Gilstad Literacy Foundation was established to manage Charlotte County Imagination Library as a 501c3 non-profit corporation. Our program is run by local educators, business owners, and community supporters and is funded by local business sponsors and community donations.

Our purpose is to promote early childhood development, encourage parent-child interaction, enhance children’s literacy, and better prepare youngsters for kindergarten.

We welcome all children under the age of five to enroll in this program. There is no better time to start reading to a child than now. The Charlotte County Imagination Library is excited to be able to offer this service to the children and parents of our community!


Early childhood literacy is what children know before they learn to read.

By planting the seeds of literacy early in life, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:

• Encourages positive parent-child interactions
• Improves readiness for kindergarten
• Sets the foundation for success in school, which sets the foundation for success in life.

Children who participate in the program:

• Recognize pictures, numbers and words
• Understand what a story is
• Know how to flip through a book
• Know the joy of receiving a gift in the mail every month
• Love reading stories with their parents or caregivers
• Are better prepared for kindergarten

It’s easy to participate:

 • Parents register their children by completing a simple form
• Children can be enrolled online in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library by going to www.imaginationlibrary.com
• Approximately 2 months after registration, the first book arrives in the mail, from the Dollywood Foundation in a clear plastic wrapper so it is immediately recognizable.
• A new book arrives in the mail free of charge to the family every single month until the child’s fifth birthday

Register a Child
Side Bar Contact Form

Board Member: Justin Gerow

Justin Gerow has called Charlotte County home for the past 33 years.  Upon graduating from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, he continued on to Duke University where he received a B.A. in Economics.  After a short stint with Dell Computer in Texas, he entered the financial industry and returned to Charlotte County in 2005 to build a successful investment and insurance practice.  Justin has been actively engaged in his community over the years and has served on several boards and foundations.  He and his wife Katrin have been happily married for 22 years and have two children.  They enjoy travel, the outdoors, and beach time.

Become a Sponsor

Your one-year sponsorship will provide a Charlotte County pre-school child with 12 free, age-appropriate books. A book will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to the child’s home each month. Your “sponsorship fee” is tax-deductible. Contact us today to learn more!

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