Expanding Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Across Alaska

Number of Alaska children enrolled in Imagination Library
With the financial support of the Alaska Dept of Education & Early Development, along with partners such as The Children’s Hospital at Providence, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) and Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation; Best Beginnings is helping communities around Alaska create or expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in their areas.

Founded by Dolly Parton to encourage children to read, Imagination Library mails a high quality, age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age 5 who enroll within their community, regardless of their family income. The cost to the child is free. Find out how to enroll your child.

  • Best Beginnings: provides matching funds and technical assistance to communities that wish to start their own Imagination Libraries. Review Best Beginnings Request for Proposal for Imagination Library Expansion.
  • The communities: raise funds, promote the program, register the children, and enter information into the database.
  • The Dollywood Foundation: manages the system and mails the books

111 Alaska communities currently participate in Imagination Library through 34 Imagination Libraries under the Best Beginnings umbrella. They include Akiachak, Anchor Point, Anchorage, Brevig Mission, Chevak, Copper River Valley, Cordova, Delta, Dillingham, Fairbanks North Star, Galena, Greater Kenai/Soldotna, Homer, Hoonah, Juneau/Southeast Alaska, Kotzebue, Kuskokwim, Mat-Su, Metlakatla, Nanwalek, Ninilchik, Nome, North Slope Borough, Old Harbor, Port Heiden, Sand Point, Seward/Moose Pass, Togiak, Unalakleet, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Upper Tanana, and Valdez. (View on map)

  • Today, 2014, 41% of the estimated 53,996 children in Alaska under age 5 are now enrolled in Imagination Library and receiving a book in the mail each month.
  • The cost to provide a book a month to one child for one year is $30.
  • With individual donations, we can give even more Alaska children the extra boost for success in school. Make a donation

In 2013, new Imagination Libraries were created in Akiachak, Cordova, Port Heiden, and Sand Point. That round of grants was funded by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (DEED).

In 2010 and 2011, UAA researchers completed evaluation studies of Imagination Library demonstrating that children participating in the program for at least one year are more enthusiastic about reading, are read to more often, are perceived by parents to be better prepared for kindergarten, and live in homes with more children’s books. Review study results.

Just as every community is different, every Imagination Library begins in its own way. But it always comes down to a few people who make it happen. Check out the muscle behind Alaska’s Imagination Libraries.

If you’re interested in organizing an Imagination Library in your community, please check the website for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library first. (“Community” can be defined as a town, village, or an area where a group of people live.) Then contact Best Beginnings.

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