Of all the new baby freebies out there I’d have to say I was the most excited about discovering Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library after the birth of our first daughter. It is simply the best!
Here is everything you need to know.
What Is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library?
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails a free book every month to children from birth to age five. (Really!)
My fourteen-month-old is literally obsessed with our mailbox and I think it’s because she gets so excited for book day.
How It Works
The Imagination Library partners with local nonprofits, such as libraries, school districts and service clubs who help bring the program to cities, towns, and communities around the world.
Imagination Library provides administrative support and deeply discounted books, but it is actually the local nonprofits funding the purchase of the books for a given region. There are heroes everywhere, people!
Which Books Are Included?
While the exact books sent by the Imagination Library are always changing, some of the favorites my family has received so far include The Little Engine that Could, Corduroy’s Shapes, and The Hungry Caterpillar.
Books are specially selected age-appropriate, high-quality titles. These books are delivered to registered children each month from birth to age five. Each one is personalized with the child’s name and mailed directly to the child’s home.
This effort creates a gifting experience making books exciting and shows the child someone is thinking of them.
I also LOVE that the books are sent in age-appropriate developmental stages!
The first year they are sent lots of bright and colorful board books.
The second year they are sent books that are predictable and with topics familiar to children such as daily routines and incorporate lots of real photo illustrations.
The third year the books focus on values and character, but with minimal words so that you can engage your child where they are at with a “build your own story” approach.
The fourth year they begin to take on more complex stories with heroes, conflicts, and resolution.
And in the final year, children receive perfectly timed practical books about topics such as school preparation and readiness, science, and gratefulness. How amazing is that?
Since I know the books were carefully chosen by pros I even like to use them as a guide for purchasing additional age-appropriate books for my kiddo!
The Imagination Library’s Mission
Dolly founded the Imagination Library as a tribute to her father who didn’t know how to read. Though he was one of the smartest men she knew she was afraid that his inability to read held him from fulfilling all of his dreams.
She believes that if you can read, you can do anything, dream anything and be anything! Furthermore, a child’s early introduction to books and being read to at home is a huge factor regarding a child’s early educational success.
She wants every child to have access to books, regardless of their income. Over 1.2 million total kids have participated to date. Go, Dolly!
Who Qualifies For The Imagination Library?
All children from birth to age five qualify! However, since the program depends on its partnership with local organizations, there is still limited availability in the U.S.
How To Sign Up
Go to The Imagination Library Homepage and select “Check Availability.” Enter your address to see if Imagination Library is up and running in your Zip Code! If so, A) complete the online registration OR you can register by mail. B) Do a little happy dance and wait for your books to start coming! (Note: It can take a few months to get the first book due to processing.)
If Imagination Library is not available in your area yet you won’t be able to register, but you still have two options! A) Click “Champion Alert” to sign up to be notified as soon as it is available near you. B) Help spread the love! Consider becoming a champion in your community and starting a program where you live. Visit the How to Start a Program page for resources and more information.
Are you already a part of Imagination Library? What do you do to help instill a love of reading in your kids? Share your tips with me below!
Love books? Check out these 6 additional ways to build your children’s library for cheap!