SRF Program

  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library

    VEYLDF Alignment

    Item uses these practice principles: Partnerships with families, High expectations for every child.

    Item responds to these sub-outcomes: Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work, Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts.


    Founded by musician Dolly Parton in 1996, this program encourages reading habits by gifting children a brand-new book every month in the first five years before school. It also supports parents/carers as their child's first and most important teacher. 

    Participating community organisations send children a new age-appropriate book, with their name on it, every month to their homes. Each book comes with a tip sheet to help parents/carers get the most out of the book.

    The local provider works with a committee of early childhood education professionals and considers the diverse backgrounds of children, including Aboriginal and CALD backgrounds, and the content of books. Books are mostly by Australian authors and illustrators.

    Services using the library access a secure online database to register enrolments, which are in turn added to the monthly national mail-outs. The local provider assists with database set up, training and support.

    Detailed Costs

    Fixed at $9/month per registration (child/book), including postage (six-month minimum term).

    There is a one-off set-up cost of $180 (excl. GST) per kindergarten service. Registration includes digital resources to explain the importance of reading to parents/carers.

    Services can also buy a copy of the monthly book, which can encourage further reading, engagement and learning activities.

    Contact provider directly for an information pack or further details.

    Implementation Considerations

    Target population: children, parents/carers, educators.

    Program implementation: services can draw on the monthly books for integrated learning, and use tip sheets to help children build on their reading habits.

    Staffing: services must enter registrations on the secure database, and update the database with new enrolments or addresses.

    Factors to consider: this resource targets early literacy development in the home. Services may need to plan how to help parents/carers develop effective book-sharing skills. The provider also encourages services to partner with local public libraries and help parents/carers sign up their child, to further prepare them to become independent learners ahead of school.

    Australian experience: the program started in the United States, and has been run by United Way Australia for the past five years. It now has 60 Australian partner organisations.

    Priority Area


    Strength of Evidence

    Level 3 - Promising research evidence