Celebrating 10 years and more than 1 million books sent to children in Australia

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Australia

A Free Book Gifting Program 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Australia is a free book gifting program devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children everywhere. Each month, enrolled children receive a high-quality, age-appropriate book in the mail, free of charge. Children receive books from birth to age five.

In 2013, a joint effort between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and United Way Australia began. The partnership helped bring the program to Australia in 2013 making it the fourth nation and third continent to launch the Imagination Library.

How It Works

Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails a high-quality, age-appropriate 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. United Way Australia coordinates book selections and wholesale purchasing, as well as coordinating the monthly mailings. United Way Australia supports communities to deepen their impact.

Local Affiliates/Partners

The Imagination Library partners with Local Affiliates and Partners who help bring the program to cities, towns, and communities around the world. Local Affiliates can be businesses, not-for-profits, local governments, or early childhood providers who share in the mission and purpose of the Imagination Library.

Local Affiliates are responsible for enrolling children who live within the geographical area they offer the program in. They promote their local programs online and at events. While the Imagination Library negotiates wholesale pricing for the books, Local Affiliates and Partners are responsible for securing funds to cover that cost. Books are 100% free to enrolled children because their Local Affiliate has secured funds to cover the cost of the books and the shipping fees.

Becoming a Local Imagination Library Affiliate in 3 Steps:

Step 1: Figuring out ‘Do I want to do this?

I’m interested in starting a program for children in my community.

Check to see if the Imagination Library is already offered in your community here.

The Imagination Library isn’t currently supported in my community. What do I need to consider to get started?

You will need to identify financial support to sustainably cover the wholesale cost of the books and mailing.

How much funding do I need?
  1. Decide on the geographical area you think you would like to cover – such as a Local Government Area, suburb or community.
  2. Get the 0-5 population from a census website. Search Census data | Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Common financial supporters:

  • Service Clubs (Rotary, RSL Clubs)
  • Local foundations
  • Local businesses
  • Local Council
  • Individual donors

Step 2: Putting the pieces in place.

1. Contact United Way Australia
  • Let them know your intentions.
  • Ask any questions.
  • Get our Memorandum of Agreement document that we’ll put in place to outline our relationship and capture key information.

2. Begin building a support team

Key roles you should consider:

  • Local Coordinator – a person to coordinate the effort.
  • Fundraising – to sustainably identify and collect local funds.
  • Enrollment  – plan where and how to enroll children, oversee registration brochure distribution (if using) and marketing campaigns.
  • Database – entering new registrations, accepting pending online registrations, updating addresses, utilizing reports in the Book Order System (BOS).
  • Community Outreach – collaborate with other local organizations and coalitions. May also collect undeliverable books.
  • Family Engagement – plan efforts to encourage parents to better engage their children through DPIL books and read more often.
  • *TIP – Also consider engaging other community partners to build coalitions and collective impact strategies. Ask United Way of Australia for help with ideas and information.

3. Secure sustainable funding
  • Engage your support team for contacts.
  • Consider putting together an advisory council to assist.
  • Identify potential funding partners and begin meeting with them.
  • *TIP – At this point you should have a good plan outlined: an idea of the funds you will need, community details/facts and partners who are willing to help – this will all help make your ask more clear and direct.

4. Complete and submit partnership docs
  • Return completed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to your United Way Australia contact.

Step 3: Make final preparations and launch!


Receive your Book Order System login information and operations manual.


You may now enter registrations into the BOS. Email us to switch to Operating status when you are ready to begin accepting online registrations and start mailing books!


Think about planning a launch event to build awareness and excitement.


Utilize available resources:

  • Promotional materials
  • United Way Australia contact
  • Imagination Library network