Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Canada
A Free Book Gifting Program
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Canada is a free book gifting program devoted to inspiring a love of reading in young children. In partnership with local community partners, enrolled children receive monthly, a high quality, age-appropriate book in the mail, free of charge.
From a Toronto stage in November of 2006, Dolly Parton enthusiastically announced the Canadian expansion of her Imagination Library. It was the first international push for the organization. Program coverage has spread across all Canadian provinces and territories, gifting over 3 million books in Canada in partnership with over 400 local program partners. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has recognition for addressing social barriers to literacy.
How It Works:
The Dollywood Foundation funds and provides the infrastructure of the Imagination Library program including coordinating book selections, negotiating wholesale purchasing, mass printing, and managing a secure centralized book ordering system. The Foundation incurs the cost of the program’s administrative / overhead expenses and coordinates the fulfillment of monthly book mailing.
Local Program Partner promotes program, finds and enrolls children, secures funding and pays a small community portion per child per month. Community raised funds go 100% to serving children in their community.
Registered children received specially-selected book personalized with child’s name on label, mailed directly to their home every month until their 5th birthday, at no cost to the child’s family.
Children can register as early as birth and receive books monthly until their fifth birthday.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a turnkey, scalable, low cost, low risk, highly effective program promoting equitable access to early childhood educational resources. The program has direct effect on the home literacy environment with families engaged in reading, school preparedness and academic achievement.
Books and reading strengthen the home environment and support natural tendencies of family who want their children to be healthy. Established reading routines have evidence-based results linking reading to healthier mental outcomes.
Bring the Imagination Library to your Community!
The Imagination Library partners with local community partners who help bring the program to cities, towns, and communities around Canada. Local Program Partners can be businesses, service organizations, school districts, foundations, organizations, or simply individuals who share a passion for inspiring children to love books and reading!
If you are interested in how you can bring the program to your community or support an Imagination Library in your local area, please submit an enquiry through our Start a Program form.
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
Partnering with a local organization, preferably with CRA charitable status:
Local Program Partners administers the program, manages local funds, pays a monthly invoice, maintains financial records, budgets and plans for the program in their community.
How much funding do I need?
- Decide on the geographical area you think you would like to cover – such as a county, city, school district or postal code(s)
- Get the 0-5 population from a census website.
- Enter the 0-5 population into the Cost Estimator on our website.
Common financial supporters:
- United Way
- Service Clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)
- Local community foundations
- Private foundations
- Government (municipal, provincial or national grants)
- Indigenous Organizations (tribal, band or Métis councils, or others)
- Local businesses
- Chambers of Commerce
- Individual donors
- *Contact your Regional Director to discuss
Where do I find a non-profit partner?
- First Nation, Metis or Inuit community organizations (Early Learning and Child Care focused)
- Municipal governments
- United Way
- School Districts
- Local foundations
- Community Foundation
- Starting your own Steering Committee
Step 2: Putting the pieces in place.
1. Contact the DWF Regional Director that covers your area
Find your Regional Director here.
- Let them know your intentions
- Ask any questions
- Get our Memorandum of Agreement and Affiliate Information Sheet – the two documents 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:
- Chairperson – 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. Also may collect undeliverable books from local post office.
- Family Engagement – plans 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 your Regional Director for help with ideas and informative docs.
3. Get Fundraising effort underway.
- 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) and Affiliate Information Sheet (AIS) to your Regional Director
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
- Regional Directors
- Imagination Library network
- Partner Success Kit on Dashboard of BOS