Governor Mills Announces Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Maine

Starting in 2023, the State of Maine and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will provide a monthly book for children from birth to age five, free to families through funding shared by Dolly, the State of Maine and local community partners.

Portland, Maine – During a virtual chat with iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton at the National Governor’s Association today, Governor Janet Mills announced that the state of Maine is launching a nationwide expansion. State of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2023.

The Imagination Library of Maine will mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to children from birth through age five each month, regardless of their family’s income. The program is dedicated to improving the lives of children by inspiring a love of reading with books, and is free for registered children and families.

As part of the recent bipartisan budget, Governor Mills proposed, and the Legislature approved, an investment of $200,000 to implement the program, which will be administered by the Maine State Library. Together, the Dollywood Foundation and Maine State Library will develop an implementation strategy this year with local libraries, nonprofit community organizations, the Maine Department of Education, and school systems — to establish and expand the program in the years to come. By the end of 2023, the State of Maine and the Imagination Library hope to have sent the first 106,000 books to more than 14,000 Maine children.

Maine is on the 13the state to commit to statewide program coverage.

“We know that the simple act of reading to a child boosts brain development, reduces stress and anxiety, builds vocabulary, and builds the literacy skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond. ” said Governor Janet Mills. “Today, we are taking another step towards making that happen by delivering free books to children in Maine. Maine is proud to join the family of states that participate in the Imagination Library. On behalf of all children in Maine who will benefit from this program in the years to come, I thank the one and only Dolly Parton.

“The Maine State Library is thrilled to be able to administer this program which will eventually connect tens of thousands of Maine families and children with wonderful books sent directly to their homes,” said State Librarian James Ritter. “Working with Maine Libraries and other organizations, we will have the opportunity to encourage and nurture generations of young readers through Library Imagination, and for every child who learns to read, we know we help build a community of lifelong learners.”

The Imagination Library builds on the Mills administration’s commitment to increasing children’s literacy in Maine, including investing $10 million through the Maine Governor’s Jobs and Recovery Plan to create and expand preschool programs throughout Maine.

The administration is also creating “Literacy for ME 2.0” to revamp its statewide literacy plan and the Maine Association for Literacy Improvement to mobilize a network of educators who will pledge to support statewide literacy efforts.

This summer, the Maine Department of Education will also host its first-ever Educator Summit to train our teachers in the most effective, evidence-based practices for increasing children’s literacy. Each year, the Department also sponsors the statewide “Read to Me” Challenge to encourage adults to read to their children.

In 2019, about 57% of fourth-grade students eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency levels in reading, while 33% of students not eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency levels. reading skill levels. However, Maine ranks fifth in the nation for the percentage of parents with children ages 0-5 who read to their children daily (46.9%).

Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 to distribute books in the impoverished county of Tennessee where she grew up. The state of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide, and since then the nonprofit program has expanded to five countries. In June 2022, Imagination Library donated 184,615,046 books to over 2 million currently enrolled children.

According The Dollywood Foundation, 90% of a child’s brain is developed before the age of five, making this period extremely important for their development which can be enhanced by reading books. The Foundation notes that daily readings by parents or guardians provide the best opportunity to prepare their child for school and that literacy is a major social determinant of health and long-term economic impact.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Since its launch in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the largest early childhood book donation program in the world. The flagship program of the Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has given away more than 182 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of ‘Ireland. The Imagination Library sends more than 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to children enrolled from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring children to dream more, learn more, do more, and be more. The impact of the program has been well researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit libraryimagination.com