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More than 5 million Dolly Parton's Imagination Library books gifted to Arkansas children since 2005

Newton County Library reports 100% participation by eligible children in the county the past two months


LITTLE ROCK — In July, Arkansas Imagination Library and local program partners in all 75 counties will celebrate a statewide milestone: More than five million Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library books have been mailed to the homes of Arkansas children, ages 0 to 5. Charlotte R. Parham, Ed.D., Executive Director of Arkansas Imagination Library, stated, "We are excited to reach this incredible milestone for the children of Arkansas. We will continue to celebrate as more children across the state have access to high-quality books!"
Arkansas Imagination Library (ARIL) is a statewide 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that partners with The Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee and local program partners in all 75 counties in Arkansas to increase childhood literacy and promote school readiness. All eligible children in Arkansas (ages 0 to 5) can register for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library – at no cost to families. Each child enrolled in the Imagination Library receives one book per month in the mail until the child's 5th birthday.
To enroll a child and find a list of local program partners, visit arkansasimaginationlibrary.org.
Current Enrollment and Program Costs
Currently, approximately 84,000 Arkansas children (46% of the state’s total 0 to 5 population) receive books each month from local program partners. The annual program cost is $26 per child. Arkansas Imagination Library provides half of the program costs ($13 per child per year), while the remaining $13 per child per year is raised by local program partners.
Arkansas Imagination Library’s goal is to reach at least 65 percent enrollment among all Arkansas children ages 0-5. Nationally, 65 percent enrollment is a best practice among all Imagination Library programs in the United States. This goal will be achieved through increased partnerships and support from school districts, hospitals, local and statewide organizations, individuals, and grants.

The Program’s Impact on Arkansas Students
Arkansas Imagination Library’s 2021 study showed that Imagination Library participation increased kindergarten readiness and third-grade literacy scores among Arkansas students by 18.26 percent. In 2023, ARIL and the Arkansas Research Center at the University of Central Arkansas analyzed Qualls Kindergarten Readiness Assessment scores of all Arkansas preschool children from 2013 to 2017. The analysis revealed that children enrolled in the Imagination Library performed 5 to 10 percent higher in all areas than unenrolled peers, particularly among low socioeconomic groups. This indicates that the Imagination Library program helps close both opportunity and achievement gaps.
Reducing Educational Disparities in Arkansas
By providing monthly books to all eligible children at no cost to families, the Imagination Library reduces educational disparities by ensuring that all children have access to a home library. According to the Arkansas Community Foundation’s Aspire Arkansas Report (2023), only 32 percent of Arkansas third graders are proficient in reading. Given that 85 percent of a child's core brain development occurs before age three, when vocabulary can predict third grade reading levels, early literacy is crucial (J.S. Hutton, 2015). Additional research links the presence of a home library with a significant boost in future academic achievement, regardless of socioeconomic status (Evans, M.D., 2014, 2017).
Dr. Charlotte Parham stated, “Arkansas Imagination Library’s goal is to ensure access to quality books for ALL Arkansas children. Every child deserves to have his or her own home library…This is more than books. This is the future of Arkansas.”