Last week, the Imagination Library expanded into Thurston and Mason counties, making the program fully available in 33 of Washington’s counties and partially available in the remaining 6 counties
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which sends an age-appropriate book to children ages birth to 5 once a month, every month, for free, is now fully or partially available in all 39 counties across Washington.
Founded by Dolly Parton in 1995, the program operates by partnering with affiliate programs to provide this service to children living within the coverage areas.
Two counties — Thurston and Mason — were the last two in the state that did not have access to the Imagination Library. Last week, the Child Care Action Council officially launched its Imagination Library program as an affiliate, providing all families in Thurston and Mason counties with access to the program.
“Early literacy is incredibly important for children’s development,” State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said. “By providing books to all children at no cost to families, the Imagination Library is removing barriers and setting up children for success in school and beyond. I am grateful to have the opportunity to support this critical program for our young learners.”
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has been supporting the expansion of the Imagination Library with an investment of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Ensuring equitable access to high-quality early learning opportunities is one of Reykdal’s top goals.
In June, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law creating the Imagination Library of Washington, that helps develop and sustain affiliate programs in each county in the state. The Imagination Library is now fully available to all families living in 33 counties. Only six counties — Adams, Grant, King, Pierce, Skagit, and Snohomish — have partial coverage.
“This is such an exciting time for the Imagination Library of Washington team and affiliates, as we are nearing the finish line of full statewide program coverage,” said Brooke Fisher-Clark, Executive Director of the Imagination Library of Washington. “The impacts of this program are vast and powerful, and we cannot wait until the moment every single early learner in our state has this opportunity.”
This legislative session, OSPI submitted a request to the Governor and the Legislature to invest $2.5 million per year so all of Washington’s youngest learners, no matter their county, have access to this incredible program.
“One of the best indicators of a child’s education, health, and happiness later in life is whether they have books around them in their earliest years,” said Rep. Monica Stonier (49th Legislative District). “Dolly is a national treasure, and I was so honored to help bring the Imagination Library to Washington to put books directly into the hands and homes of our tiniest readers. I’m so excited that we now have the opportunity to expand this incredible program to families in every corner of our state.”
Engaging children with literacy early on in life has been connected to outcomes including kindergarten readiness, reduced rates of disciplinary action, and higher graduation rates. With the Imagination Library’s ability to purchase books in bulk, it only takes an investment of $2.20 per book to sustain affiliate programs and support these outcomes.
To learn more or contribute to the program, visit the Imagination Library of Washington website.