As I virtually traveled throughout our district, I have become aware of many great initiatives that benefit humankind in different ways. One of the most inspirational and affordable ones I discovered is the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL).
The program provides children ages zero to five free age-appropriate books mailed directly to their homes once a month until they turn five. This happens at a critical time during the first five years when so many of the brain’s neurons are making connections.

Several of our Rotary clubs, in their areas, have been providing this for kids for the past few years.

The program has been proven to strengthen many areas, including early literacy skills (alphabet knowledge, receptive and expressive vocabulary, phonological awareness, etc.) and improving family engagement time reading. Another incredible feature of this program is it eliminates barriers to books within their affiliate zone. The program reaches early learners no matter their residential location, economic status, race, gender, or other diversities and backgrounds. It even reaches them during pandemics and in these ever-changing times. The gift of a new book each month is still something our young children can count on.

I have not seen a program that produces more bang for the buck than the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Investing in early literacy yields short-term results such as higher Kindergarten assessment scores to long-term results like achieving graduation, reducing crime, increasing employability, and much more. Literacy is the key to community transformation.

Several Rotary clubs on Vancouver Island and throughout Western Washington have already been supporting this program for years. One example is Cumberland Centennial Rotary on Vancouver Island. Every newborn child in their community is gifted a five-year subscription to Dolly Parton Imagination Library, where they receive, by mail, a new book each month.
Another example is all 7 Rotary clubs in Lewis, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties in Southwest Washington. They have been doing this as a joint effort for several years. Currently, approximately 5,000 kids receive the age and gender appropriate books for a cost of about $2 US each month. They are paid for by the seven clubs: Centralia, Chehalis, Kelso, Longview, Longview Early Edition, Twin Cities, and Woodland Rotary clubs. What a great example of Rotary clubs working together.

The difference in test scores from students that have been receiving the monthly books versus students who have not been exposed to this program is positive and measurable. I’m just trying to spread the word. I encourage all Rotary clubs in District 5020 to consider this wonderful program to benefit kids in their local areas.

Here are some links to check out:
  • www.imaginationlibrary.com
  • https://www.cowlitzunitedway.org/sign-child-dolly-partons-imagination-library
  • https://www.lewiscountyuw.com/dolly-partons-imagination-library
Thanks, and I hope to see you at one of your weekly Zoom club meetings soon.