It comes as no surprise that children who are raised in book-rich homes experience significant enhancements in literacy skills, vocabulary growth, and academic achievements. When young children are read to in the earliest years of their life, it has a profound impact on overall brain development and builds a strong foundation for future learning.

Two recent bodies of work; a Kindergarten Readiness assessment and statewide parent survey, revealed significant positive effects on young children's learning abilities attributed to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

Imagination Library of Washington’s kindergarten readiness pilot study conducted in partnership with Longview Public Schools unveiled children who had participated in the Imagination Library prior to entering kindergarten performed better overall on the Fall 2023 WaKIDS Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (with a higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding all of the WaKIDS objective minimum targets) compared to their peers who were not enrolled in the monthly book-gifting program.

Analysis of the study was based on eight WaKIDS learning objectives pertaining to reading: comprehends language, notices and discriminates rhyme, notices and discriminates discrete units of sound, identifies and names letters, identifies letter sound correspondences, uses print concepts, uses emergent reading skills and writes name.

Key findings from the study include: (based on the 2023-2024 kindergarten class size of 425)

  • 26.6% of kindergarteners in the Longview School District were enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
  • Imagination Library participants met or exceeded all eight WaKIDS literacy objectives
  • Among the WaKIDS objectives, Imagination Library participants surpassed their non-participant peers by 20.6% in noticing and discriminating rhyme, and by 36.4% in using print concepts.
  • Participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was beneficial to a greater percentage of low-income students (based on free and reduced lunch rates) on 6 of the 8 WaKIDS learning objectives, and 7 of the 8 objectives for non-low-income students.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is elevating early childhood literacy, creating opportunities for children from birth to age five to thrive by the monthly delivery of a high-quality book, mailed right to a child’s home, at no cost to the family. In Washington, more than 114,000 young children are currently enrolled in the Imagination Library and receiving monthly books, reaching more than 1 in 4 of the total early learner population who are eligible.

The pilot study confirmed the recognizable benefits of having books at home and being read to before starting kindergarten. Imagination Library of Washington aims to promote the adoption of this tracking method by school districts across the state. This will enable the comparison of kindergarten performance between Imagination Library participants and non-participants, helping to illustrate the effects of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in local communities.

“We are excited about the results of the first pilot study, and future ones to come, as it will help to tell the story of progress and impact in local communities across the state, as well as help local program partners in their outreach and engagement efforts to ensure early learners are getting enrolled, particularly children with the highest needs,” stated Imagination Library of Washington Executive Director, Brooke Fisher-Clark.

In addition to the kindergarten assessment pilot study, Imagination Library of Washington recently conducted a state-wide parent survey, resulting in nearly 15,000 responses from Washington parents and caregivers who have children currently enrolled in the Imagination Library. The survey aimed to evaluate the impact of receiving monthly books on children's reading interest and skill development. Significant discoveries include:

  • Since receiving Imagination Library books, 77% of parents/caretakers read once a day or more with their child.
  • 76% of families said that their child is more interested in reading and books since receiving books from the Imagination Library
  • 92% of parents/caregivers believe that participating in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is helping to prepare their child(ren) for kindergarten
  • 85% of families reported seeing positive changes in their children in terms of increased vocabulary, increased listening and social skills, and an increased interest in reading.

This marks the second parent survey carried out by Imagination Library of Washington, in collaboration with the state's 46 local Imagination Library program partners. The initial survey was conducted shortly after the creation of the statewide organization in 2022. For more information about Imagination Library of Washington and to view the full pilot study, visit

Click image to download full assessment.

Click image to download full survey results.