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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California is kicking off a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to all 58 counties — providing universal access to free books in the mail every month, including bilingual options, for approximately 2 million children over the next several years.
SACRAMENTO — Today Governor Gavin Newsom, joined by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, State Senator Shannon Grove, State Librarian Greg Lucas, and The Dollywood Foundation, announced that California is launching the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. The expansion, made possible by bipartisan legislation SB 1183 (Grove) — which was signed into law by Governor Newsom last year — allows all California children under the age of five to be eligible to enroll in the program to receive a free book every month in the mail. The program is currently active in areas across 30 counties in California and this expansion is expected to fully cover the entire state by 2028.
First Partner Siebel Newsom reads to students in the Sacramento area to launch the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
WHAT GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM SAID: "Dolly Parton unites us through her music — and through her commitment to helping all kids develop a love for reading. With this statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, California is on track to put more free books in children's hands than any other state in the nation — broadening millions of young minds to a world of unlimited possibilities."
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WHAT FIRST PARTNER SIEBEL NEWSOM SAID: "Reading to kids early and often is good for their literacy development and a great way to begin to cultivate a lifelong love and appreciation for reading. I have immense gratitude for Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library for partnering with California to expand the program and provide the first in the nation bilingual book option. As the program grows from 30 counties to all 58, more and more California families will have the opportunity – at no cost to them – to give their children the beautiful and invaluable gift of reading, in English and Spanish."
WHAT DOLLY PARTON SAID: "I'm so thrilled at the overwhelming support to make my Imagination Library available to every child in California! 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."
WHAT SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM TONI ATKINS SAID: "Books have the power to transport us to new worlds and introduce us to new people and ideas. Growing up, my family didn't have a lot but we did have access to a library. Reading with my parents instilled in me a lifelong love of books and thirst for knowledge that propelled me to places I would never have expected. Every child deserves the same chance to learn from and enjoy books. This statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library will help spark a love of reading for generations of Californian children, support healthy brain development, and provide a fun way for parents and children to connect."
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WHAT STATE SENATOR SHANNON GROVE SAID: "Today is a historic moment as we embark upon an exciting journey to expand Dolly Parton's Imagination Library across California, a wonderful bilingual reading program that will inspire the minds of our youngest learners. I am honored to have authored this impactful legislation that will ignite the love for family reading, improve academic performance and have a positive impact on our children for generations to come."
WHAT STATE LIBRARIAN GREG LUCAS SAID: "Early readers grow into strong readers. Strong readers are more likely to succeed in school and to succeed in life. The Imagination Library makes that happen for every kid under five. This is the kind of challenge we like at the State Library — working with local partners to put as many books as we can into the hands of as many kids as we can."
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is currently active in all 50 states and has gifted over 200 million books since 1995. California is the first state to provide a bilingual option where children and their families can select to receive bilingual books in both English and Spanish. When California's statewide expansion is complete, it will be the largest statewide Imagination Library in the nation.
Under Governor Newsom's leadership, and in partnership with the Legislature, California is improving education outcomes and investing in literacy. California outperformed most states in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic, and through historic levels of school and library funding, the state is building a cohesive structure of support for educators and students that reflects a focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success.
To learn more about California's expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library visit https://library.ca.gov/services/to-public/imagination-library.
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