KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The number of states where every young child can receive free books is growing next year, as California’s statewide launch of the Imagination Library is planned for the summer of 2023.
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, shared a video on Twitter promoting the launch on Wednesday. According to the governor’s office, starting in June, every Californian child under the age of 5 will be able to get a free book in the mail through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Expansion to California. The video said that over 2.4 million children in the state will have a chance to enroll.
According to a release on the Imagination Library’s website, in October, it was announced that Newsom signed legislation, Senate Bill 1183, to bring the Imagination Library to all of California. The legislation of SB 1183 afforded a state budget of $68.2 million in one-time funding to establish the program under the administration of the State Librarian.
“I’m so thrilled at the overwhelming support to make my Imagination Library available to every child in California!” Dolly shared in the October announcement. “I want to thank Senator Shannon Grove and Senator Toni Atkins for inspiring tremendous support from California legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom for enthusiastically signing this bill. Today is an amazing milestone for children and families across the state! We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a love of reading in children across California that will last a lifetime.”
As of October 2022, only one percent of Californian children between the ages of 0-5 were enrolled in existing local Imagination Library programs, the announcement said, however, the local programs were seeing rising interest and success, especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities where accessing libraries is more difficult.
As of December 29, the Imagination Library’s website says that over 195 million books have been gifted, and nearly 2.25 million children are registered worldwide. In the United States, 1 in 10 children under the age of five receives Imagination Library Books according to the website.
To see if Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is available for a child in your life, click here. The Imagination Library is available in areas of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.