Photographed from l-r; Maria Lee, First Lady of Tennessee; Bill Lee, Governor of Tennessee; Jane MacLeod, President and CEO, Cheekwood; James Pond, President, Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation; Grace Awh, Chair, Cheekwood Outreach Committee; Jim Hunt, Chair, Cheekwood Board of Trustees; and Carol Yochem, President, Middle Tennessee Region, First Tennessee Bank

NASHVILLE, TN — This week, Cheekwood launched a new permanent exhibition in connection with a recently established partnership with the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, promoting literacy statewide in children from birth to age five. On Tuesday, September 17, Governor Bill Lee gave remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Storybook Trail exhibit in the Turner Seasons Garden at Cheekwood. 

“The Governor’s Books from Birth Storybook Trail program combines exercise and learning into a fun family activity, connecting books with the beautiful landscapes of Tennessee,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “Thank you to GBBF, Cheekwood and the other partners for bringing this innovative literacy initiative to our state.” 

The Storybook Trail features copy and illustrations from The Little Engine that Could, the first book children receive in the Governor’s Books from Birth program. The new exhibit offers reading tips for parents and caregivers and is installed along the pathway leading to Cheekwood’s popular TRAINS! exhibit. 

“Literacy is a significant component of our education and outreach programs here at Cheekwood,” said Jane MacLeod, President and CEO. “Through this new initiative, we will be able to provide children with a fun and immersive reading experience in a garden setting, and hopefully reach more families than ever before.”

In May 2018, GBBF partnered with Tennessee State Parks Conservancy and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to launch the Imagination Library Storybook Trails in Middle Tennessee with the goal of eventually spreading the idea statewide.

Cheekwood is the first site outside of a public park to be selected to host a Storybook Trail location. As part of this new partnership, every child in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner County that signs up for Governor’s Books from Birth will receive a free family pass to visit Cheekwood. 

“We are so proud of the Storybook Trail program and are grateful for the parks and community partners, like Cheekwood, who help make this initiative possible,” said James Pond, GBBF President. “With 16 trails in operation, our goal is to promote this program across the state to provide families with the opportunity to share imagination and nature.  By bringing books to life, we want to give every child the opportunity to experience the joy of reading—beyond the pages of a book.”

The GBBF Storybook Trail program now includes 16 trails at parks in Tennessee, reaching over 35,000 families per year.

For more information about the Governor’s Books from Birth program, visit 

For more information on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:

The Storybook Trail at Cheekwood is sponsored by the First Tennessee Foundation. For more information about Cheekwood, visit 

Cheekwood is considered one of the finest American Country Place Era estates in the nation. Formerly the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, the extraordinary 1930s estate, with its Georgian mansion and 55 acres of cultivated gardens and expansive vistas, today serves the public as a botanical garden, arboretum, and museum with historic rooms and art galleries, showcasing works from its 7,000 permanent collection as well as traveling exhibitions. The property includes 12 distinct gardens and a mile-long woodland trail featuring modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture.  Cheekwood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and is a USA Today Top 10 Botanical Garden. Cheekwood is located just 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville at 1200 Forrest Park Drive. Daily hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For further information, call 615-356-8000 or visit