Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Scottish Book Trust is very proud to be a partner of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Through a grant from the Scottish Government, the Imagination Library provides a free book a month to all Looked After Children in Scotland up to the age of five. For a clear definition of what ‘Looked After Children' means, please visit the Scottish Government’s websiteFrom March 2018, adopted children will also be eligible for enrolment in the programme.

Every child enrolled in the programme is able to build up their own personal library of up to 60 books, improving their literacy and encouraging their parents and carers to read with them.


Why target Looked After Children?

There is evidence that Looked After Children have lower educational and health outcomes than their non-Looked-After peers. They tend to leave education earlier and with fewer qualifications and have poorer mental health. See the Education Outcomes for Looked After Children 2014/15 publication and the Inquiry into Health Inequalities for more information.

Research has shown that the presence of books in the home is the most important factor in determining long-term achievement, so we are confident that early exposure to books will improve these outcomes. We believe that having a regular book each month helps promote attachment between the caregiver and child, giving them a focus to spend quality time together.

See our research section for more information.


How does it work?

There is a set cost of around £2 per book, which includes postage and packaging costs. The Scottish Government meet these costs through a grant to Scottish Book Trust. Any other costs to the programme are met by Dolly Parton herself!

The Dollywood Foundation handles the ordering, labelling and registration process so that each child receives the right book for their age, delivered directly to them at their address.

Looked After Children in Scotland should be automatically enrolled in the scheme. A contact in each local authority manages their enrolment. To find the contact details of the person who manages enrolment in your area, click here to use the “Affiliate Locator.”


Which books do children receive?

The books for the Imagination Library programme are selected every year by an independent committee of experts in the field of childhood development, literacy and education, including a representative from Scottish Book Trust. The titles are chosen to support developmental milestones and encourage active involvement—children turn the pages, lift the flaps, count, feel, use pictures to tell a story, sing songs and rhymes. The mix includes children’s classics, popular characters and contemporary titles.

The overall aim is to promote a love of reading and learning, to inspire every child and feed their imagination!

To see which books children will receive this year, download the current book list.


Background to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was developed in 1995 by Dolly for her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. She wanted to give every pre-school child their own library of books. The scheme was such a success that other communities asked to join and it has now gone on to become an award-winning international programme. More than 80 million books have now been mailed to children in thousands of communities across the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Belize.

The scheme began in the UK in 2007 and now operates in over 100 communities, delivering books to more than 31,000 children every month. However, this is the first scheme to run on a national basis in all 32 Scottish Local Authorities, purely for Looked After Children. For further information on the Imagination Library, visit their website.


Special Message from Dolly

Check out this video for a special Bookbug message from Dolly Parton

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