New data uncovers key impacts of Imagination Library on Washington’s early learners


Two recent bodies of work — a kindergarten readiness assessment and a statewide parent survey — have revealed significant positive effects on young children's learning abilities attributed to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the organization announced in a news release on Monday.

“It comes as no surprise that children who are raised in book-rich homes experience significant enhancements in literacy skills, vocabulary growth and academic achievements. When young children are read to in the earliest years of their life, it has a profound impact on overall brain development and builds a strong foundation for future learning,” the Dolly Parton Imagination Library stated in a news release.

United Way of Lewis County partnered with the Lewis County Rotary Foundation to start the Imagination Library in the county and has been running the program since 2019.

As of last December, 2,624 children in Lewis County were enrolled in the program, representing 57% of eligible children in the county, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

Washington was the 11th state to join the program, according to a previous news release from the United Way of Lewis County.

Patron visited Washington in August 2023 to celebrate the program’s statewide adoption. 

Imagination Library of Washington’s kindergarten readiness pilot study, conducted in partnership with Longview Public Schools, unveiled children who had participated in the Imagination Library prior to entering kindergarten performed better overall on the Fall 2023 WaKIDS Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, with a higher percentage of students meeting or exceeding all of the WaKIDS objective minimum targets compared to their peers who were not enrolled in the monthly book-gifting program, according to the news release.

Analysis of the study was based on eight WaKIDS learning objectives pertaining to reading: comprehends language, notices and discriminates rhyme, notices and discriminates discrete units of sound, identifies and names letters, identifies letter sound correspondences, uses print concepts, uses emergent reading skills and writes name.

Key findings from the study, based on the 2023-2024 kindergarten class size of 425, include:

• 26.6% of kindergarteners in the Longview School District were enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

• Imagination Library participants met or exceeded all eight WaKIDS literacy objectives

• Among the WaKIDS objectives, Imagination Library participants surpassed their non-participant peers by 20.6% in noticing and discriminating rhyme, and by 36.4% in using print concepts.

  Participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was beneficial to a greater percentage of low-income students (based on free and reduced lunch rates) on six of the eight WaKIDS learning objectives, and seven of the eight objectives for non-low-income students.

“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is elevating early childhood literacy, creating opportunities for children from birth to age five to thrive by the monthly delivery of a high-quality book, mailed right to a child’s home, at no cost to the family. In Washington, more than 114,000 young children are currently enrolled in the Imagination Library and receiving monthly books, reaching more than one in four of the total early learner population who are eligible,” the organization said in a news release.

The pilot study confirmed the recognizable benefits of having books at home and being read to before starting kindergarten, according to the news release.

Imagination Library of Washington aims to promote the adoption of this tracking method by school districts across the state.

“This will enable the comparison of kindergarten performance between Imagination Library participants and non-participants, helping to illustrate the effects of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in local communities,” the news release stated.

“We are excited about the results of the first pilot study, and future ones to come, as it will help to tell the story of progress and impact in local communities across the state, as well as help local program partners in their outreach and engagement efforts to ensure early learners are getting enrolled, particularly children with the highest needs,” said Imagination Library of Washington Executive Director Brooke Fisher-Clark.

In addition to the kindergarten assessment pilot study, Imagination Library of Washington recently conducted a statewide parent survey, resulting in nearly 15,000 responses from Washington parents and caregivers who have children currently enrolled in the Imagination Library. The survey aimed to evaluate the impact of receiving monthly books on children's reading interest and skill development.

Significant discoveries include:

• Since receiving Imagination Library books, 77% of parents/caretakers read once a day or more with their child.

• 76% of families said that their child is more interested in reading and books since receiving books from the Imagination Library

• 92% of parents/caregivers believe that participating in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is helping to prepare their child for kindergarten

• 85% of families reported seeing positive changes in their children in terms of increased vocabulary, increased listening and social skills, and an increased interest in reading.

This marks the second parent survey carried out by Imagination Library of Washington, in collaboration with the state's 46 local Imagination Library program partners.

The initial survey was conducted shortly after the creation of the statewide organization in 2022. For more information about Imagination Library of Washington and to view the full pilot study, visit

‘Dolly Day Lewis County’: United Way event to bolster youth literacy program:

The United Way of Lewis County and the Lewis County Rotary Foundation recently announced Dolly Day Lewis County, a special fundraising event slated for May 17 and dedicated to supporting Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Lewis County.

“Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a cherished worldwide initiative aimed at fostering a love for reading among young children by providing them with high-quality books each month from birth until age five at no cost to the family,” United Way stated in a news release. “The program not only ignites imagination, but also lays a strong foundation for literacy and learning.”

To celebrate the cause, Dolly Day Lewis County will feature a pledge drive on KELA/KMNT radio throughout the day. Listeners will be encouraged to support the literacy goals of the Imagination Library by giving a one-time donation or signing up to be a monthly recurring donor.

That evening will feature a performance from Cascade Country music artist Kitty Mae at The Juice Box in Centralia.

“Attendees can look forward to an evening filled with great country music, a line dancing lesson, fantastic silent auction items, and a sense of community engagement,” the United Way stated.

On May 17, doors will open at The Juice Box for the performance at 6 p.m. The concert begins at 7 p.m.

"We are incredibly excited to host Dolly Day Lewis County and extend an invitation to our community to join us in supporting Dolly Parton's Imagination Library," said Annie Oien, executive director of United Way of Lewis County. "By attending this concert, you’ll not only enjoy an evening of fantastic music but also contribute to a cause that enriches the lives of young children across our county."

General admission tickets are $25 and VIP tickets are $50. Tickets are available to purchase online at United Way of Lewis County’s website at

“Don't miss this opportunity to come together, enjoy great music and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children in Lewis County,” United Way stated.

To learn more about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Lewis County, visit