Olympia, Washington – June 9 is a day of great achievement for the Imagination Library statewide expansion. Washington is well on its way to establishing its statewide Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library; an early literacy program that mails high quality, age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to five years old, free to the family. Washington is the eleventh state to commit to achieving statewide coverage and the first statewide program on the West Coast.
On June 9, House Bill (HB) 2068 will be signed into law by Governor Inslee, allowing a separate 501(c)3 to be established - the Imagination Library of Washington. Powered by United Ways of the Pacific Northwest (UWPNW) and reporting to the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) in coordination with Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the statewide Imagination Library will promote, develop, and sustain affiliate programs across the entire state, as well as market the program to ensure all families have access to enroll their children.
"I was so excited when Washington expanded my Imagination Library a couple months ago, and now I'm over the moon to learn that we're opening the program to all children in the state - it's just amazing! I'm so grateful to everyone involved helping us get more books to children and families across Washington. Our dream is coming true, so let's keep up the great work!" says Dolly Parton.
Our goal as a statewide program is to establish local programs in every county across the state and cultivate new partnerships to help fund and support local affiliates. It is a goal to enroll 150,000 children in the Imagination Library of Washington by June 2023. Currently, the statewide program has 29 operating affiliates covering portions of the 39 counties in Washington, and 26,000 eligible children in the state are receiving free books through these existing local programs.
“It is a personal dream come true to have Washington become the first statewide Imagination Library program on the west coast. We should all feel so proud as Washingtonian’s that we are supporting our children in this very special and impactful way. Sign your children up today and help inspire a love for reading and books. Don’t forget to gather around and read as a family,” stated Executive Director of the Imagination Library of Washington, Brooke Fisher-Clark.
“The Imagination Library is an incredible opportunity for children and families across the world, and OSPI was proud to support the initial expansion with our emergency relief funds,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “I applaud the Imagination Library Expansion team and the Legislature for their efforts to expand this important program statewide, so every Washington child and family has access to these supports.”
World-class superstar and philanthropist Dolly Parton started the program in 1995 as a way to distribute books to her Tennessee county where she grew up. The state of Tennessee adopted the program statewide. Since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries.
“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library helps children build the necessary reading, writing and comprehension skills to become kindergarten ready; but maybe more importantly, creates valuable opportunities to bring families together for quality reading time. My family has benefited from the Imagination Library, and I know families across the State of Washington will as well. On this ‘Law Day’ we can celebrate the legislative process and bipartisan effort to pass HB 2068 that made the Dolly Parton Imagination Library part of our early learning success,” stated 20th District State Representative Peter Abbarno.
Monica Stonier, 49th District State Representative added, “As an English teacher I know that book rich households are key for successful students. Dolly Parton fans know all about her passion for promoting literacy and getting books into the hands of children. I am thrilled that we were able to connect her Imagination Library with babies across Washington State and it was an honor to partner with one of my favorite American icons on this shared passion.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is proven to achieve equitable access to books, increase school readiness, foster a love of reading and books, and improve family engagement.
“Kids need books to thrive. Books develop literacy habits that last a lifetime, cement bonds between adults and children, and provide an essential ingredient needed to overcome intergenerational poverty,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter.
To check availability and enroll Washington children, visit www.imaginationlibrarywashington.org. Check back often to stay up to date on state expansion progress.
About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
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, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted well over 182 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.8 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com
About United Ways of the Pacific Northwest
United Ways of the Pacific Northwest (UWPNW) is the regional trade association for 34 local United Ways in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. United Ways in the Pacific Northwest are committed to improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good in the areas of education, income, and health. Our mission is to advance the common good throughout the Pacific Northwest by enhancing the individual and collective ability of member United Ways to impact their communities and collaborate on regional and statewide issues.
About the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Led by State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI oversees K-12 public education in Washington state. Our mission is to provide funding, resources, tools, data, and technical assistance that enable educators to ensure students succeed in our public schools, are prepared to access post-secondary training and education, and are equipped to thrive in their careers and lives.
About the Department of Children, Youth, and Families
DCYF is a cabinet-level agency focused on the well-being of children. Our vision is to ensure that Washington state’s children and youth grow up safe and healthy - thriving physically, emotionally and academically, nurtured by family and community.
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