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The following information is a list of resources compiled by multiple parties. The Dollywood Foundation and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library feel these studies show that this wonderful program is very beneficial for promoting early childhood literacy and we understand the resources listed below can be beneficial to organizations and individuals alike that are interested in or already participating in our early childhood literacy program.
We encourage you to have a look around and share the information as you wish. Should you know of any additional, reputable resources that you would like to share, you may do so by contacting the Regional Director for your area. If you are unsure of who your Regional Director is, you can find that information by visiting the Find My Affiliate area. 

Imagination Library- Research:

When Dolly first launched the Imagination Library in her hometown, no one really gave much thought to researching the programs impact on children and families. The reason was quite simple – the incredible number of stories shared by parents was more than enough evidence to affirm the impact of the program. Moreover, Dolly was paying for it so if she believed, then so be it! However over the last 10 years, as the program grew from one small county in east Tennessee to being supported locally in almost 2,000 communities in three countries, the need for additional research grew as well. The challenge has been and will always be how to assess impact without overreaching or falling short of a realistic research objective.


What People Say About Dolly's Imagination Library:

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a unique early years book gifting programme that mails a brand new, age-appropriate book to enrolled children every month from birth until five years of age, creating a home library of up to 60 books and instilling a love of books and reading from an early age. Any community in the USA, Canada or UK may replicate the Imagination Library and sponsor the regular gifting of books to every child under five in their community.

At present, over 1300 communities sponsor Dolly’s Imagination Library for over 650,000 children. We would like to share with you some of the comments and endorsements we have received over the years from parents, teachers and communities.


An Evaluation of the Shelby County Books from Birth Program:

Research Findings: This study examines the association between participation in the Imagination Library early childhood literacy program and early language and math skills at kindergarten entry. The findings suggest participation in the program is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development. This association remains after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors, pre-kindergarten educational experience, and family reading habits. Practice or Policy: These results offer support for policy interventions designed to advance kindergarten readiness by increasing young children’s access to early literacy materials.
Full Study:

Executive Summary:

Data Book:

Urban Child Institute Summary:

CURAR: Do More Books in Hand Mean More Shared Book Reading?:

Brief Description/Abstract: Previous research has established a link between parents reading to their children regularly and increased literacy levels. Implicit in much of this research and programs that provide books to families is that greater access to books will lead to increased shared book-reading. We examine this assumption by testing the effects of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library – a program that delivers via mail one book per month to children from birth to age 5 in over 1,000 communities across the United States and Europe. A paper and phone survey was used to gather a sample of 170 families from the Imagination Library Program at 10 months of implementation in a midsized northeastern U.S. city. Results indicated that greater exposure to the program (i.e., increased access to books) was associated with more frequent child-directed reading and discussion of the story. These results persisted when controlling for the effects of child age, gender, family income, parental education, race, parental nation of birth, and primary language. Longer exposure to the program, however, was not associated with more frequent looking at pictures or parents asking a child to read along with them.
Full Study:

Executive Summary:

Imagination Library 2011 Report Summary:

In May 2008, a partnership of the Battle Creek Educators’ Task Force, the Felpausch Foundation, Summit Pointe, and Willard Library launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library locally. Children born after May 1, 2008 and residing in one of the four school districts in Greater Battle Creek are eligible to participate in the program (including private schools). Each month, a free book is mailed directly to children enrolled in the program, and children continue to receive monthly books until their fifth birthday. Registration information is provided via the library, local and area hospitals, pediatrician offices, Family Health Center, day care centers, the library, elementary schools, the Community Literacy Council, Great Parents, Great Start, Calhoun Area Career Center nonprofit organizations, churches, and other various service organizations. All marketing materials are available in both English and Spanish.

The goals of the project are to:
  • Increase the number of books in the homes of children in the Greater Battle Creek area.
  • Increase literacy activities in the homes of participating children.
  • Increase parent-child interaction in the homes of participating children.
  • Increase child interest in reading in the homes of participating children.
  • Increase parent awareness of child’s reading level in the homes of participating children.

A Report on Hawai‘i’s Imagination Library Program

By all accounts, the data suggests that participation in IL has made a dramatic difference in the frequency of reading to children in the families receiving the IL books.
  • Before receiving IL books, 51.7% of the respondents reported reading to their child once a day or more (26.5% more than once a day, 25.2% once a day). After receiving IL books, this percentage increased to 81.3% (49.4% of the families reported reading more than once a day and 31.9% reading once a day). 
  • Seventy-seven percent of the families who read to their child several times a week before receiving IL books increased their reading frequency to either once a day or more than once a day.  
  • Of the families who read to their child once a day before receiving IL books, 96.8% increased their reading frequency to more than once a day.  
  • Of the families who read to their child just once a week before receiving IL books, 98% increased their reading frequency after participating in IL. Fifty-two percent of the respondents increased their reading to at least once a day and 46% increased to several times a week.
  • Reading frequency increased with all age groups of children: birth-11 months, 12-23 months, 24-35 months, 36-47 months, 48-59 months, and 60+ months
Download Full Article  
Tennessee Board of Regents Findings
  • Teachers believed that Dolly’s Imagination Library participants enjoyed learning new stories more than non-participants – especially at the pre-kindergarten level – and that the Imagination Library fostered creativity.
  • Open-ended comments were highly positive: Teachers applauded the fact that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides books to children who might not otherwise be able to own any books, and that the books were useful classroom learning tools.
  • Some teachers thought that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library would be even more effective if parents and communities would take full advantage of it.
  • Experienced teachers agreed that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has aided preparation for pre- K and kindergarten.
  • Although survey responses could not be controlled for extraneous factors in early childhood development such as intervention from other programs (i.e., Voluntary Pre-K for All or Head Start), student backgrounds, or number of years enrolled in the Imagination Library, the survey still allows for understanding the probable effects of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library participation on literacy and early childhood learning as an aggregate.
  • As more Tennessee children are enrolled in the Imagination Library at the earliest possible opportunity (ideally at birth), the abilities gained from participating in the program –as already apparent in these 2007 charts– will be ever more noticeable.

Download Full Article
Middletown Report Conclusion

The survey was largely a composite made from questions asked on previous surveys that had been distributed in various Imagination Library communities: one used for a 2003 study of the program in South Dakota, Tennessee, and Georgia titled Literacy Outcomes and the Household Literacy Environment: An Evaluation of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, conducted by the nonprofit High/Scope Educational Research Foundation and funded by a grant from the Anne E. Casey Foundation; one used in 2007 by the chapter operated by the Allegan County, Mich., United Way; and one used in 2007 by the University of Hawai’i Center on the Family to assess chapters throughout that state.

Alaska 2009 Report Findings:

The data suggests that the IL program has supported one of Best Beginnings recommendation of supporting their parents with as their first child's first and most important teacher by sending books into homes for parents to read with their children. The survey data suggests that more parents are reading to children and this is a valuable experience that will help their children succeed in kindergarten. The summary is as follows:
  • Enrollment across the state has grown tremendously. At the beginning of the year there were 11 communities with programs. As of December of 2009, there was additional funding added and 11 more communities with additional funding in some of the existing programs. 
  • Enrollment has grown in all IL programs across the state, with some communities serving nearly all the children ages 0-5 in the village (Nome).
  • Over 500 children 0-5 were enrolled in 2009 in Anchorage, Seward, and Angoon. All of these families filled out Survey 1.
  • Over 250 parents in the Nome and Fairbanks IL programs filled out survey 2 after receiving books for a minimum of a year.
  • Based on Survey 2 in Fairbanks and Nome parents report after receiving IL books monthly for a year their children were enthusiastic about reading.
  • Based on Survey 2 in Fairbanks and Nome parents report after receiving IL books monthly for a year that they have encouraged other parents to participate in the IL program.
  • Based on Survey 2 in Fairbanks and Nome parents report after receiving IL books monthly for a year they read more frequently to their childlren
  • Based on Survey 2 in Fairbanks and Nome parents report after receiving IL books monthly for a year they read more frequently to their childlren 
  • Based on Survey 2 in Fairbanks and Nome parents report after receiving IL books monthly for a year they thought their child would be more prepared for kindergarten.

Various Grants Available for Non-Profits

This comprehensive list of potentially available grants for champions of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library was researched and compiled by Scott Peterson and Global Youth Justice. Click to view Scott's list of available non-profit grants found.