Supportive Research

Exploring How The Imagination Library Impacts Communities

The Imagination Library began with Dolly Parton’s desire that every child, regardless of income, would have access to books. Since its founding, The Dollywood Foundation has conducted and encouraged research on the Imagination Library program in an effort to assess communities’ reactions to the program and its impact on children literacy. The majority of this research has been implemented at the local community level, by program staff or local researchers, to provide formative and summative feed back to support local Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) implementations. The Dollywood Foundation initiated a review of over 20 years of research conducted on Imagination Library programs in the U.S. and internationally. The findings from the body of DPIL research indicate the program is extremely popular in the communities where its implemented and shows promise in promoting changes in home literacy environments, children’s attitudes toward reading, and early literacy skills.

Positive Perceptions

  • Participating family members were overwhelmingly positive about the program and its impact on their children when asked in questionnaires, interviews and focus groups.
  • Community members, including Imagination Library partners and preschool and kindergarten teachers, also had positive views of the program and its impact on book ownership and literacy practices in homes.
  • The positive views of the program and its impacts were present regardless of the demographic characteristics of the community or its participants, and longer program participation often resulted in more positive outcomes.

Richer Home Literacy Environments

  • Parents read aloud more to their children and were more comfortable reading as a result of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 
  • Parents reported their children owned more books as a result of participating in the program.

Improving Attitudes & Skills

  • Parents believed their children were more interested in reading due to receiving the books each month.
  • Participating children were excited when their Imagination Library books arrived in the mail monthly, addressed specifically to the child.
  • Some studies found Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had promise with respect to developing children’s early literacy skills, as participants had more advanced skills than their classmates who did not participate in the program.
Imagination Library Research Logic Model

Logic Model

The Dollywood Foundation is committed to supporting local Imagination Library programs and communities. One focus of our recent work has been identifying common outcomes for all Imagination Library programs. This will ensure we are all on the same page and provide the best program possible for children and families. These research-based outcomes were identified through reviews of the literature and are considered to be building blocks for lifelong literacy, supported by the research, and aligned with the Imagination Library’s philosophy and goals.









Navigate through the following documents and folders to view, print and download all available research documentation listed within the “Research Database” (above).


AK, Anchorage-1 Year Evaluation of DPIL-2009-Final Report.pdf
AK, Juneau – DPIL Research.pdf
Assessment overview 2013
AU, Ready-to-Read Impact Report – Nov. 2014.pdf
CA-First Nations DPIL Final Evaluation.pdf
Child Service Provider Focus Group Report 2013.pdf
Document Name
IL Final Rep
LA, Louisian Assoc. of United Ways DPIL Report 2011 Final Draft, July 2007.pdf
MI, Allegan County DPIL Evaluation Final, Dec 2009-Statistical Analysis of Kindergarten DIBELS Test Scores in Response to the Imagination Library Program.doc
MI, Allegan County United Way 2007 DPIL survey results.doc
MI, Kellogg DPIL 2011 Evaluation and Report-Willard (Kellogg).pdf
MN, United Way of Central MN-DPIL evaluation
MO, Columbia – DPIL Study Timeline Draft.pdf
MS, Indianola – DHA IPC Imagination Library Report.pdf
NM, 2014 Imagination Survey (includes eBooks questions).docx
NM, Grant County – 2013 Survey Final.docx
NM, Longitudinal Study Year 1 – Sept. 2014 – School Effects of Participation in Imagination Library.docx
NM, Longitudinal Study Year 2 – Aug. 2015, Educational Trends Vol. 2 article – School Effects of Participation in Imagination Library.docx
NY, Onondaga County, Syracuse–Executive Summary–Examining the impact of the Imagination Library Program
NY, Reading Psychology Journal-DPIL Syracuse
OH, Middletown – Imagination Library Report.pdf
PA, Erie County – UWEC Executive Summary FINAL 5.31.2016.docx
Parent Focus Group Report 2013.pdf
Parent Survey Report 2013.pdf
Refugee Family Literacy Interactions with DPIL.pdf
Rotherham IL Annual Report 2011-2012.pdf
Rotherham IL Annual Report 2013-2014.pdf
SC, Cherokee County First Steps DPIL Survey Results 2010.pdf
Thompson Klemp Stinson 2016
TN-Knox County Imagination Library Third Grade Follow Up Study
TN-Knox County-DPIL and Kindergarten Literacy
TN, Shelby County – Third Grade, Comparisons of Academic Data for Imagination Library Participants and Non-participants.pdf
TN, Shelby County- DPIL SCBFB Final Paper
TX, Wichita Falls – North TX Area United Way, Parent Survey Results, 2008.doc
UK, DPIL Review Report 28.5. 2010.doc
UK, Nottingham – DPIL Evaluation, Bilborough FINAL Report 15.9.14-3.pdf
UK, Scottish Book Trust DPIL evaluation March 2014.pdf
WV, Final IL Report.pdf