Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Yolo County, managed by United Way California Capital Region, will be growing this summer thanks to a statewide expansion. The program that provides free books to children from birth to age 5 regardless of income has had a full waitlist in Yolo County, but that list will reopen this summer with opportunities for more Yolo County families to sign up. For more information or to sign up, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/our-work/help-kids-succeed/dolly-parton-imagination-library/.
The statewide expansion was driven by legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under the bipartisan bill — by Senator Shannon Grove, a Bakersfield Republican, and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat — the California State Library coordinates the Imagination Library of California’s statewide program and provides a dollar-for-dollar match to help Imagination Library local partners like United Way sign up children to receive free, high-quality books each month.
“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is one of United Way’s most beloved programs here in Yolo County, and a critical tool for helping kids learn to read,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Reading is a key indicator of academic achievement, which we know is a ladder out of poverty. We are thrilled that this statewide expansion means more Yolo County families will have access to outstanding children’s books so kids can develop a lifelong love of reading and succeed in school.”
The Imagination Library is available in 30 counties in California with expansion plans to fully cover the entire state. The Imagination Library of California will focus on reaching more children and families in existing Imagination Library programs, as well as finding community partners to create new Imagination Library programs across California. California is the first state to partner with the Imagination Library to offer a fully bilingual English/Spanish book language option. Books are selected by the Imagination Library’s panel of experts in early childhood and reading. To learn more about the book selection process, visit: www.imaginationlibrary.com/usa/choosing-our-books/.
“Studies show developing reading skills at an early age leads to more long-term success in life,” said California State Librarian Greg Lucas. “Reading these free books with your children improves their language skills, grows their vocabulary and better prepares them for kindergarten.”
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted more than 200 million free books in the United States and internationally through funding shared by the foundation and local partners. The Imagination Library mails more than 2 million books each month to enrolled children from birth to age 5. Parton envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more. The program has been widely researched, and results demonstrate its positive impact on early childhood development and literacy skills. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, visit www.ImaginationLibrary.com.
For 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has been working to end poverty by creating stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities. Since 1923, the local United Way has raised more than $500 million to fight poverty in the region and help families succeed. The group recently announced a goal to raise $3 million to help 10,000 kids excel in school by 2025 as part of its work to end poverty for local families. The local United Way has found one place in each community to reach the most families in need: School is square one for ending poverty. United Way uses its Square One approach to end poverty for local families by helping children excel in school, investing in families, and strengthening schools with resources to address increased poverty and deep roots of racial inequality. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.