Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Australia is a book gifting program “devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children everywhere” according to the website.
Each month, enrolled children receive a high-quality, age-appropriate book by post, free of charge. Children receive books from birth to age five.
Centres or preschools can become Local Champions and enrol children in the program. In 2013, a joint effort between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the United Way began. The partnership brought the program to Australia in 2014 making it the fourth nation and third continent to launch the Imagination Library.
According to Dolly Parton’s website, towns such as Doomadgee in Queensland are seeing “marked improvements” in school readiness among children who have received Imagination Library books.
How it works
Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends a book to all registered children, addressed to them, at no cost to the child’s family.
Countless parents have shared how excited their child is when their new book arrives each month. Many groups and individuals work hard behind the scenes to make that special moment possible for each child.
The Imagination Library provides the infrastructure of the core program, including managing the secure central database for the Book Order System and coordinating book selections and wholesale purchasing. It also incurs the cost of the program’s administrative expenses and coordinates the monthly mailings.
The Imagination Library partners with Local Champions who help bring the program to cities, towns and communities around the world. Local Champions can be businesses, school districts, small or large organisations, or simply individuals who share in the mission and purpose of the Imagination Library.
Local Champions are responsible for enrolling children who live within the geographical area where they are offering the program. They promote their local programs online and at events. While the Imagination Library negotiates wholesale pricing for the books, Local Champions secure funds to cover costs. Books are free to enrolled children because their Local Champion takes care of the cost of books and shipping fees.
In a letter on her website, Dolly Parton writes: “Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy.
“He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.
“Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission. In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children.
“Of course, I have not done this alone. The real heroes of our story are the thousands of local organizations who have embraced my dream and made it their own. They raise millions of dollars each year and wake up every day with a passion to make sure their kids have every opportunity to succeed.
“It’s been quite a journey, but we have so much more left to do. I would love for your community to join our family so please take the time to explore our website. Let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books.
“The first step is always the hardest, but you’ll never know unless you try.”