Research finds impressive results from Imagination Library

Parents of children enrolled in Imagination Library for at least one year read to their children more frequently, report their children are more enthusiastic about reading, and think Imagination Library helps their children be better prepared for kindergarten.

Those are among the findings of several different surveys, including research conducted in Alaska by University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) researchers Hilary Seitz, Ph.D. and Robert Capuozzo, Ph.D.  The UAA research involved two surveys:

  • Survey 1 to parents new to Imagination Library, before their children received any books.
  • Survey 2 to parents whose children had been enrolled for at least one year. (The latter group included Anchorage, Seward/Moose Pass, and Angoon; their Imagination Libraries had been established in 2009. Survey 2 was administered in 2010/2011.)
Highlights of the Alaska research include:

Evaluation graphs

  • Parents are reading to their children more often. After receiving books for at least one year, more parents – 77% – report reading to their children every day. This compares with 64% before enrollment in Imagination Library.
  • Need for Imagination Library is clear. In Brevig Mission, 63% of the parents said reading and books are very important to their child’s development. Yet 19% had no children’s books in the home and never read to their child. This year’s Survey 1 communities, which span a wider geographic area of Alaska, show that only 44% of parents are reading to their children every day. Clearly, Imagination Library is filling a gap, and it will be interesting to see the impact a year’s worth of books has in communities without bookstores, libraries, or the ready availability of print materials. Yet even in Anchorage, 7.3% of Survey 1 families report no children’s books in the home.
  • Children enrolled in Imagination Library seen as better prepared for school. Alaska families enrolled in Imagination Library for at least one year overwhelmingly (93%) say it helps their children be better prepared for kindergarten.
  • Enthusiasm for reading increases. The percentage of children reported to be very enthusiastic about reading increased after a year of Imagination Library, from 62.7% before the program to 76.8% after one year.

Studies in the Lower 48 report similar trends. A case study in Central New York found after four months in Imagination Library, the likelihood of children being read to every day doubled, increasing every month. The likelihood leveled off at 99% after 29 months in the program.

A study in Middletown, Ohio, found low-income households were more affected by Imagination Library in terms of changes in parental behavior. In that study, nearly 98% of low-income families – compared to 69% of middle and upper-income households – reported reading to their child more frequently since enrolling in Imagination Library. A higher percentage of lower-income families also said the program changed the way they spend time with their children.

Related Information


This original article appeared in the Best Beginnings September 2011 E-newsletter. Subscribe today! Please review our content reproduction policy if you are interested in reproducing this article.

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