Imagine More: Kids get free books in the mail through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio

What’s more exciting for a kid than getting mail? Getting books in the mail – for free! Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, opens a new window, which is inspired by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, opens a new window initiative, allows every child in the state of Ohio ages 0 to five the opportunity to receive a brand new book in the mail each month. This helps to ensure that every kid who enters kindergarten is reading-ready and set up for success. 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio was inspired by First Lady DeWine's passion to improve the lives of children in Ohio. In July 2019, Governor DeWine approved a $5 million grant for the program. Research shows that a child with 25 books in their home successfully finishes an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books in their home. Reading even one book per day exposes children 290,000 more words by age five. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio’s goal is to ensure every kindergartener begins school with at least 60 books in their home. 

Here in Hamilton County, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital began its involvement in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2015, serving more than 15,000 children in the city of Cincinnati in the first four years. According to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio, “They have already seen results. In fact, Kindergarten Readiness Assessments rose by 15.4% among participating children in just three years from 42.9% on the 2016-2017 cohort to 58.3% in the 2018-2019 cohort.”

Through collaborative efforts between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the local program's goal is to register every child in Hamilton County by 2021. Starting today, the Library is offering an easy-to-click icon on all Library computers for parents and caregivers to access and online form and sign up. 

“The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school,” states the National Commission on Reading. Parents and caregivers should feel empowered to snuggle up with their child when they receive a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ohio book and start reading immediately, no matter the child’s age. 

For more information about how you can build your child's early literacy skills, read "Five fun early literacy tips for your baby, opens a new window" on the blog. And don't forget that the Library offers free storytimes at 41 of our locations. Check our online calendar to find one near you.