(WATE) — Literacy is a top priority for education leaders, especially in Tennessee with the release of recent data; there is one special Tennessean and her Tennessee-based organization seeking to encourage a love of reading in younger children – and it’s working.
New research out of Swansea University in the United Kingdom indicates children in the UK who receive books from the program do better in school. It was the largest academic inquiry into the efficacy of the Imagination Library ever carried out, according to a news release.
Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library gifts more than 2 million books to children, which is the equivalent of one book every 1.4 seconds, according to data shared by the nonprofit back in June as it achieved the milestone. The book-gifting nonprofit mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age 5 years old regardless of their family’s income.
The research study was funded jointly by The Dollywood Foundation UK and Swansea University, a UK-based research nonprofit university. The study looked at the Imagination Library’s effect on children’s parents’ practices and beliefs shared about reading plus the impact of shared reading on the children. The research was kept within the UK and led by Dr. Caroline Zwierzchowska-Dod of the department of education and childhood studies at Swansea University.
The research showed that parents receiving Imagination Library books were 30% more likely to read daily with their child than parents outside the program; plus children in the book-gifting program for more than a year had a 40% increased chance of achieving the “Good Level of Development” standard, and a 54% increased chance of achieving the Early Learning Goal for reading, compared to children with similar characteristics who were not in the Imagination Library program.
The full study breakdown can be viewed here.
Dolly Parton’s love of books and sharing them with children through her Imagination Library has been an ongoing passion project for the superstar since its 1995 launch in Sevier County, Tenn. The organization then expanded to offer books to children across the country, then internationally. By 2003, it had mailed one million books. By 2020, it had gifted its 150 millionth book.
Now just a few years later, the number of gifted books continues to grow with the help of nearly 3,000 community partners across five countries. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library gifts books in Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and of course the United States.
Families wanting to participate in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library can check availability here.