“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” – Maya Angelou

When we give a child a book, it unlocks an endless world of imagination and inspiration. Each page turned introduces them to fascinating characters and presents new ideas that spark their curiosity. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is doing just that, touching the lives of more than 116,000 early learners in Washington, providing registered children ages 0-5 with a monthly book mailed directly to their home, at no cost to the family.

June 9th signifies a historical day for the Imagination Library program here in Washington. The journey to bring this valuable and impactful early literacy program to ALL children from birth to age five began just two years ago, as Imagination Library of Washington (ILWA) was officially established through legislation on June 9, 2022. As a statewide program of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, ILWA provides match funding to 46 local program partners to leverage the monthly cost of books and mailing, ensuring the Imagination Library remains free to registered families.  

Over the last two years, many significant milestones have been achieved. Enrollment in the Imagination Library skyrocketed, increasing from just 16,000 children in June 2020 to now providing monthly books to more than 116,000 early learners in Washington. Since the first local Imagination Library program was established in Washington in 2002, over 2.65 MILLION books have been mailed to children!  

A once-in-a-lifetime celebration was held last August at the Pantages Theatre in Tacoma featuring the beloved American Icon herself, Dolly Parton. The momentous event brought together legislators, local partners, and supporters, celebrating the achievement of bringing the Imagination Library to all children under age five in Washington, making Dolly’s dream become a reality for young children across the state.


New partnerships were forged, with the goal of expanding access to the Imagination Library for families and increasing the number of children registered for the program. Washington was the second state in the U.S. to establish a partnership with the Department of Corrections, bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library into remodeled family visiting rooms within prison facilities, offering the opportunity for incarcerated individuals to bond with their children through books.

To enhance free book access and promote early literacy throughout the state, ILWA also teamed up with Little Free Library, empowering Library Stewards to include Imagination Library enrollment information within their local book sharing boxes. Partnerships with regional library systems, birthing hospitals, child care centers, and public health programs have also helped ILWA fulfill its mission to foster a love of reading within Washington’s earliest learners.


The first Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Pilot Study was conducted last Fall in partnership with Longview Public Schools, revealing that kindergarteners who had participated in the Imagination Library prior to entering school outperformed their non-participant peers overall in eight WaKIDS Assessment learning objectives pertaining to reading. In conjunction with the pilot study, ILWA also organized a statewide parent survey, receiving nearly 15,000 responses from registered families in Washington regarding the impact the Imagination Library program is having on their child.

“Two years have flown by as we celebrate the anniversary of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library being legislatively recognized as a statewide program in Washington, and eleventh state in the nation. We reflect on how much progress has been made with the number of children enrolled, new partnerships forged, and families impacted. We are so grateful for the collective support of our local program partners, lawmakers, state agencies, and families for helping to make this program a remarkable achievement in the history books for Washington,” stated Imagination Library of Washington Executive Director, Brooke Fisher-Clark.

Our future is bright, and our dreams are within reach. We look forward to giving more young children in Washington the opportunity to Dream More, Learn More, Care More, and Be More, as Dolly says.

For more information about Imagination Library of Washington, how you can support our work, or enroll a child, visit www.imaginationlibrarywashington.org.