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California expands partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to make free books available to kids under 5

Icon and Country music artist, Dolly Parton
Angel Huracha
Getty Images
Icon and Country music artist, Dolly Parton

All Californians under 5 will be eligible for a free monthly book in English or Spanish thanks to the expansion ofa partnership between California and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Currently, 30 out of 58 counties in the state participate in a program that aims to stoke a love of reading in young children. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that it planned to expand to every county in the state by 2028, which he said in a statement will broaden “millions of young minds to a world of unlimited possibilities.”

California will be the first state to offer books in both English and Spanish, according to a release.

The California Department of Education is currently looking for school districts or nonprofit organizations interested in helping expand the program throughout the state, according to a statement.

“California students are even better positioned to access the best resources to support literacy and biliteracy,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, in the statement. “Fostering interest in books and reading at the youngest ages is among the best gifts we can give our children.”

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library began in 1995 and is now active in all 50 states. Its expansion into California was made possible by a bipartisan bill authored by state Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

For more information on the program or to sign up, visit the California State Library website.

Emma Gallegos is a reporter for Ed Source covering Valley education. Kern County is still her beat but so are Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin.
EdSource believes that access to a quality education is an important right of all children. We further believe that an informed, involved public is necessary to strengthen California’s schools for the benefit of the state’s children, its civic life, and its economy.