California Kicks Off Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Jun 5, 2023 | Imagination Library, United States

California Kicks Off Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will soon be available to all children under five in California!

Governor Gavin Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, State Senator Shannon Grove, and State Librarian Greg Lucas join Dolly Parton to announce the California statewide expansion of her namesake Imagination Library book-gifting program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books each month to children from birth to age five, free of charge to families through funding shared by local community partners.

“I’m so thrilled at the overwhelming support to make my Imagination Library available to every child in California! I want to thank Senator Shannon Grove and Senator Toni Atkins for inspiring tremendous support from California legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom for enthusiastically signing this bill. Today is an amazing milestone for children and families across the state! We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a love of reading in children across California that will last a lifetime,” says Dolly.

Dolly Parton started the program in 1995 as a way to distribute books to the impoverished Tennessee county where she grew up. The state of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide. Since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries.

California is the first state to provide a bilingual option where children and their families can select to receive bilingual English/Spanish books for every book. When California’s statewide expansion is complete, it will be the largest Imagination Library statewide program in the nation.

Goals for Expansion

The expansion, made possible by bipartisan legislation SB 1183 (Grove) which was signed into law by Governor Newsom last year, allows all California children under the age of five to be eligible to enroll in the program to receive a free book every month, regardless of the families’ income. The program is currently active in areas across 30 counties in California – and with this expansion, is expected to fully cover the entire state, providing universal access to free books in the mail every month, including bilingual options, for approximately 2 million children over the next several years.

“Dolly Parton unites us through her music — and through her commitment to helping all kids develop a love for reading,” Governor Newsom said. “With this statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, California is on track to put more free books in children’s hands than any other state in the nation — broadening millions of young minds to a world of unlimited possibilities.”

Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, and in partnership with the Legislature, California is improving education outcomes and investing in literacy. California outperformed most states in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic, and through historic levels of school and library funding the state is building a cohesive structure of support for educators and students that reflects a focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success.

Register a Child

Check Availability online to enroll California children and check back often as we continue expanding programs across the state!