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

May 8, 2024 | Imagination Library

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

Oregon announces goal to make books available to all children ages 0-5 in every county!

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek joins Dolly Parton, Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) representatives and state officials to announce the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program’s mission is to inspire a love of reading by providing universal access to free, high-quality and age-appropriate books each month for children ages 0 to 5 years old throughout Oregon.

“Brain science clearly shows that kids start to develop literacy skills from birth,” said DELC Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “That’s why here in Oregon, we’re making major investments to help kids develop the joy of reading.”

The Imagination Library is supported by The Dollywood Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Dolly Parton in 1988. Since launching in 1995, the Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world, with the mission of inspiring a love of reading in children from birth to age five. Inspired by Dolly’s father’s inability to read, the Imagination Library Program was launched in her home county of Sevier County, Tennessee. The program’s significant impact led to its international expansion and has gifted over 241 million free books in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. Every month, the Imagination Library mails over 2.9 million books.

Goals for Expansion

Currently, over 54,000 children across Oregon receive the gift of a monthly book through 55 community programs. Books are free to the family regardless of family income. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a voluntary program and parents of children ages 0-5 can sign up to receive a new book each month at no cost to families.

The goal of the statewide expansion is to make books available to children ages 0-5 in every zip code in Oregon. During the 2023 legislative session, under Senate Bill 5506, $1.7 million was appropriated to DELC to help administer and expand the program statewide. The Department of Early Learning and Care is working with local program partners and The Dollywood Foundation to expand. To learn more about becoming a community partner, contact Rachel King at [email protected].

According to The Dollywood Foundation, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, making that time period critically important for their development that can be enhanced by reading books. The Foundation notes that daily readings by parents or caregivers provide the greatest opportunity to prepare their child for school and that literacy is a major social determinant of health and economic impact in the long term.

Register a Child

The program is free of charge to families and made possible through funding shared by Dolly and local community partners in the state. Check availability to enroll your child or sign up to be notified when this program comes to your community. Visit back often as we expand across the state.