Imagination Library Communities in Western Australia

Early childhood reading is changing lives.

United Way WA is the state ambassador for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Western Australia. We started our first imagination library in 2015 and have received positive feedback from participants over the years. Early childhood reading is changing lives.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Launched in 1995 by American Country star Dolly Parton in her hometown in Tennessee, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library encourages reading among families with preschool children by mailing age-appropriate books, once a month, until the child reaches the age of five. What started as a community initiative has since expanded to more than 1600 communities in the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia. Having grown up in a relatively impoverished, rural eastern community in the US, Parton had a dream to help those in her position who had limited opportunities to read while growing up. At the heart of this initiative is the mission to inspire children to love to read. (1)

“Let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books.”

– Dolly Parton, American Country Singer

Community Impact in Western Australia

In 2018, a total of 15.2 million books were gifted to children worldwide. Of those, 53,142 books were read by children in Australia. (2)

United Way WA launched its first Imagination Library community in Kwinana, starting with 33 families in 2015. As the State Ambassador for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, UWWA currently supports 25 children in our pioneer WA community library – Kwinana Early Years Service, with plans to start new libraries in Clarkson and Merriwa soon.  To date, 8 children have graduated from this program since 2015 and a total of 33 families have benefited from this impact.


Starting Anew

Meet Susan*, a single mother of two (aged 9 and 4) who relocated from the Eastern States over a year ago to guarantee her and her children’s safety. Susan found her move incredibly challenging and not knowing people who could help her here added to her stress. She found a place she could call home after a few months and stumbled upon UWWA’s Imagination Library initiative. Receiving books soon became something the children looked forward to every month. Susan and her kids read each of the books multiple times together and use the books each night to connect as a family.

“…the kids had lost so many of their possessions, the books became something to look forward to,
collect and take care of.”

– Susan, participant in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

She believes that the books have furthered her children’s comprehension skills and that the tip sheets provided have helped her immensely.

A Story of Hope

Single-mother-of-two Amy* was homeless and living in a shed with her eldest daughter, Hannah*,  over a year ago. Due to her situation, Amy could not purchase books for Hannah and had no safe space to share books with her daughter. Hannah had no access to literature and was behind her peers in her learning development. After seeking help from various non-for-profit organisations, the family has since relocated and are now residing in a safe and clean living space. Currently, Hannah is enrolled in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library scheme and this has freed up resources for Amy to buy other types of developmental learning toys for her children.

“Amy has spoken to me on many occasions about how happy she is that Hannah and Beatrice* now have access to their own books [and] this would not have been possible without the help of the Dolly Parton imagination library.”

– Amy’s Family Support Worker

Amy now reads with both her daughters daily and the girls look forward to story time before going to bed. Hannah gets excited every time when she receives her monthly book in the post and enjoys sharing her gift with her family. Since joining the program, Hannah has seen marked improvement in her speech, language and imaginative play.

A Family in a New Home

Having moved to Western Australia from Sri Lanka 12 months ago, this family of 4 found themselves in a foreign environment. The family speaks Sinhala at home but hope to foster an environment to improve their children’s English language skills. Having a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, the parents were encouraged to enroll in the Imagination Library scheme.

“My eldest daughter reads to my son in English and my son is now turning the pages and pointing to the pictures, saying the words in Sinhala. I too have learnt to recognize a few written English words.”

– Mother in an Imagination Library Program

How you can support us this Christmas

These are but a few stories that have emerged from the Imagination Libraries that you have contributed in supporting over the years. With your help, we can enroll and support many more Western Australian children from vulnerable homes.

  • With $15, you can provide one home delivered age-appropriate book for a child with literacy resources for their parents/care givers.
  • With $40, you can provide one home delivered age-appropriate book for a child with literacy resources for their parents/care givers and also give this gift to a child you know.
  • With $90, you can support a child for six months on their journey to becoming school ready with 6 home delivered age-appropriate books for a child with literacy resources for their parents/care givers.
  • With $180, you can sponsor a child with monthly books for a whole year with literacy resources for their parents/care givers.
  • With $360, you can sponsor a child with monthly books for a whole year with literacy resources for their parents/care givers and also give this gift to a child you know. 

    If you donate over $40 you also receive interactive colouring book/s depending on the level you donate.Our overall target is $5000 this will help us enrol upto 28 new children into next year’s program in WA.

If you would like to support a WA child and ‘Give the Gift of reading’ click here 


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