Educators have emphasized the fact that reading with a preschool child is the single most important activity to help prepare a child for school. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was created to guarantee access to books and to inspire parents to read to their children as much as possible.
United Way of Southwest Minnesota is committed to building literacy skills and school readiness in young children. We want to ensure children have positive developmental opportunities so that they can start school ready to succeed. We want to grow success in learning and in life.
Studies show that when kids are given regular 'lap-time' not 'laptop' time, but time spent reading books before kindergarten, their vocabulary can reach 10,000 words before age 5. For a child who hasn't had this experience, their vocabulary is about 3,000 words.
United Way of Southwest Minnesota, in partnership with The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, provides one book each month to children, from birth to age 5, who live in our service area* and are registered by their parent or guardian. These sturdy, colorful, age appropriate books are delivered directly to the child. Each book is selected for the developmental benefits it brings - and for the fun. There is no cost to registered families. *To participate in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in this area of southwest Minnesota, families must live in one of the following school districts: Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy Area, Westbrook-Walnut Grove or Yellow Medicine East.
The cost for this program is covered by donations made to United Way of Southwest Minnesota by: individual and business donors; local Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs; Operation Round-up Funds; and other service organizations.
Program sponsorship costs United Way of Southwest Minnesota approximately $30 per child, per year. If you would like to donate towards this program, please send a donation to us at: United Way of Southwest Minnesota, PO Box 41, Marshall, MN 56258; Click the DONATE tab on our home page; or call us at 507-929-2273.
Parents or guardians can enroll their child (or children) under age five online or by submitting a short registration form. To register, see links near top of page. If you would like to receive a paper registration form by mail, call us at 507-929-2273.
Please allow 8-12 weeks for delivery of your first book. Not all books are shipped on the same day within a given month. Households enrolling children of different ages should expect that books for each child will arrive at different times.
NOTE: The books cannot be forwarded by the postal service. If you move, please contact us as soon as possible (prior to moving is okay, as long as you let us know when you will be moving) with your new address so that your child(ren) can continue to receive books.
*To participate in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library through the United Way of Southwest Minnesota sponsorship, the child must live in one of the following school districts (note that private and charter schools are also included): Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy Area, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Yellow Medicine East. If you do not live in our service area, click here to see if there is a sponsor in your area (once on the page, click "Affiliate Locator").
PARENT TESTIMONIALS FROM OUR 2021 IMAGINATION LIBRARY SURVEY
• I love the books they are so cute and love to read a new book every month to my baby!
• I really appreciated the diversity of the books we received. They are books I never would have known about if it weren’t for imagination library.
• Imagination Library is WONDERFUL! We love the books we've received and read together daily. My older children who have aged-out of the program now read their books to their younger siblings. What a fantastic program to encourage literacy for the entire family!
• It is rewarding to see my boys' faces when new books come in the mail for them! They look forward to reading them.
• My kids love the books. Very rarely did they receive one that didn't engage them.
• Our family greatly appreciates the generosity of donors in Southwest Minnesota through United Way and Dolly Parton for their sponsorship of books from the Imagination Library. We have enjoyed reading the selected books to our children and love the discussion points shared in each book to spark further conversation about the stories. We hope this program continues in our community and plan to make a donation to help sponsor programs like this one in our community. Thank you!!!
• Thank you for this wonderful program!
• This is an amazing program my kids love getting books in the mail. Thank you
• This is such a wonderful program. Some of our children’s favorite books have come from Imagination Library. I am so thankful to UWSWMN for providing this program. Thank you for providing my children with a wonderful, developmentally appropriate, library of books to foster a love of learning!
• This program is wonderful and introduces us to very good books that we may have otherwise overlooked. I can see the value in each individual title selected, and my four kids (two of whom have aged out of the program now) always look forward to the book each month and read them immediately - and then over and over. Our family has been receiving books for 9 years, and we have gotten a good variety of books. We recommend this program to everyone with young kids.
• We are very grateful for our books! Our baby loves them!
• We love the Imagination Library books that we receive. Our children look forward to their new books every month!
• We LOVE the Imagination Library program! My children are excited to see a book in the mailbox and immediately ask whose name is on it. We have helped our friends and nephew sign up for the program, too.
• We LOVE the Sassy Brand books! They are our sons FAVORITE books! We have many different stories and those are ALWAYS reached for.
• We love this program! My older children enjoy reading the books themselves. My youngest loves listening to the stories or even creating his own story with the pictures!
• We love this program. Thank you for all you do!
1. We receive the same books for child two as we did for child one! How can this be avoided?
Unfortunately, if a family has more than one child registered for the program, they will receive some duplicate books. Book choices are determined by the esteemed Blue Ribbon Selection Committee. This committee is a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts and is responsible for reviewing hundreds of potential titles for including in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library puts books into the hands and hearts of children around the world. Imagination Library books are specially selected age-appropriate, high-quality titles. These books are delivered to registered children each month from birth to age five. Each one is personalized with the child’s name and mailed directly to the child’s home. This effort creates a gifting experience making books exciting and shows the child someone is thinking of them.
Three to four new books are introduced into the rotation each year in each age group, so if you have multiple children who go through the program, there will likely be some duplicate books throughout the five year period. If you have multiple copies of a book, consider keeping some in your car, at grandma’s house, at daycare, etc.
2. It varies when and how often we get a book. My daughter has received three books in the last six months, but my son has only received one book in the past six months. What’s up with that?
Books are mailed from the Dollywood Foundation in Tennessee throughout each month, so it will vary what time during the month your children’s books arrive. For example, one child may receive a book on the 7th and the other child receive theirs on the 25th. Additionally, books are mailed bulk rate, so they do not have priority in delivery as first class mail does.
If you do not receive a book each month for your child, we recommend going through the following checklist:
• Is your address on the mailing label correct and complete?
• If you’ve moved, have you updated your address in the book ordering system or contacted United Way of Southwest Minnesota to update it for you?
• If the child’s last name is different from the parents’, consider filling out a change of address form for that child and put it on file with the USPS (even if the address is correct). The child receiving books each month must be registered with the USPS as living at that address, and a parent can contact their local post office at any time to be certain that the child’s name is associated with the correct mailing address.
• Check the book label for the delivery month “(Name of the month)’s personal gift for:” listed beside the child’s name.
• Are you having other lost mail?
• Do you have a receptacle installed for mail delivery?
• Consider speaking with your mail carrier and let them know you should be receiving books monthly.
• Consider checking with your local post office to see if they know why book(s) are not being received and what can be done to allow delivery.
3. We are moving and have found it difficult to change the address. What’s the easiest way to update our address and when should we do it?
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your updated address, including child(ren)’s names and when you’re moving. We’ll make sure the change gets made in the system.
If you’re moving out of our service area, we can check if there is a program sponsor where you’re moving to. If there is, we will request a transfer of your registration to the local program sponsor.
You have access to your child’s registration online if you provided an email address when you registered. You can log into the system and update the mailing address at any time you’d like.
4. Some of the books are odd. Some of the books I didn’t read to my child because they had inappropriate content and/or were unappealing and/or boring. Some of the books don’t seem age appropriate.
Book choices are determined by the esteemed Blue Ribbon Selection Committee. This committee is a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts and is responsible for reviewing hundreds of potential titles for including in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library puts books into the hands and hearts of children around the world. Imagination Library books are specially selected age-appropriate, high-quality titles. These books are delivered to registered children each month from birth to age five. Each one is personalized with the child’s name and mailed directly to the child’s home.
5. I wish my child could still get books after they turn 5. Will the program sponsor older readers?
Imagination Library is only for children ages birth-5 years old. However, there are sixteen great libraries in our service area with many books for older readers! Scholastic is also another great resource, with many books priced at just $1. Additionally, there are many used books available at discounted prices at your local thrift stores, goodwill and or Amazon.com.
6. I signed my child up, but haven’t gotten a book yet/have only gotten one book. Why?
It takes 6-9 weeks for the first book to arrive. If your child hasn’t received a book nine weeks after enrollment, please contact our office at email@example.com for assistance.
The books do not come on the same day every month. They can come at any point during the month. Once the month has ended, if your child still hasn’t received their book, please contact our office. See answer to Question #2 for additional information.
7. Who sponsors Imagination Library and how can my friend(s) get registered?
Imagination Library is available only if a child lives in an area where there is an affiliate that sponsors the program. To see if it is available in your area, visit https://imaginationlibrary.com/check-availability/.
In southwest Minnesota, the program is sponsored by United Way of Southwest Minnesota. Currently, more than 2,350 children in our service area receive a book every month. In 2020, UWSWMN invested over $61,500 into the cost of books and mailing them.
8. We moved, why aren’t the books forwarded to our new address?
Books are mailed bulk rate and therefore cannot be forwarded. If you are moving, or have moved, please update your address online or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. See answer to Question #3 above.
9. We no longer read our Imagination Library books or we’ve received multiple copies of the same book. What can we do with them?
Donate them! Daycares, schools, and thrift stores often accept books. Our office does, too! We use donated books to fill our Little Red Bookshelf locations throughout our service area. Make sure you cover up your child’s name and address before donating. A sharpie or blank label works great.
If you are moving soon, or have already moved, and your child is registered for the Imagination Library book program through United Way of Southwest Minnesota, please fill out and submit the following form asap.