Dolly Parton visits Washington to celebrate the availability of her Imagination Library to all children under five in the state.
On August 15, Dolly Parton visited Washington State to celebrate achieving statewide coverage of the Imagination Library. All Washington children from birth to age five can now register to receive one book every month, for free, from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
August 15 was also signified by a proclamation from Governor Jay Inslee and Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck as “Imagination Library of Washington Day”.
“We welcome the great Dolly Parton to celebrate our statewide program and promote registration for our youngest learners into the Imagination Library,” Governor Inslee said. “It is important to get high quality books to children from a young age and ensure that their families, and their unique races, ethnicities and identities are well represented among the selection of books.”
Hosted by the Imagination Library of Washington, the celebratory event featured a fireside chat with Dolly Parton, small performance, and recognition of champions from across the state who are making Dolly’s dream possible for Washington’s earliest learners.
“We did it, Washington! This is such a magnificent moment and achievement,” stated Executive Director of Imagination Library of Washington, Brooke Fisher-Clark. “Our team, program affiliates, state leaders, and partners have been on a quest to make this happen for the children of Washington, ensuring that all early learners have equitable access to this magical, connective, world-class literacy opportunity. What a positive, collaborative adventure this has been…and now we take a moment to celebrate and continue igniting support and enthusiasm around this for our future generations.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Washington
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Washington was established in June 2022 by legislative direction, sponsored through a partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Department of Children, Youth, & Families (DCYF), and administered by United Ways of the Pacific Northwest. The program provides a high quality, age-appropriate book each month in the mail to enrolled children from birth to age five – at no cost to families in all 39 Washington counties. Currently, more than 65,000 children in Washington are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and in total, more than 1.6 million books have been gifted to children across the state. Prior to state commitment, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was only available in a handful of Washington regions.
“It’s been an honor to support the expansion of early literacy across Washington,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “By providing free books to our youngest learners, the Imagination Library is breaking down barriers to skills that will support Washington children for a lifetime. OSPI is grateful to our partners for supporting this work.”
“Books develop literacy habits, strengthen ties between adults and children, and help children overcome intergenerational poverty,” said DCYF Secretary, Ross Hunter.
Over 211 Million Books Gifted Since Inception
Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly started Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county of Sevier County, Tennessee. Today, her program spans five countries and gifts more than 2.4 million free books each month to children around the world. In March of 2023, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library reached a monumental global milestone: gifting more than 200 million books to children worldwide. Since the launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995, the program has gifted over 211 million free, high-quality books to children in five countries.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is backed by decades of research showing that having access to books in the home inspires a love of reading and promotes changes in home literacy environments, while building important foundational skills for entering kindergarten ready to succeed.