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Reading 9-5: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Is One Step Closer To Arriving In California

Dolly Parton at a press conference at the InterContinental Sydney on November 10, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which sends free books to young children, is one step closer to arriving in California.

The program, which Parton launched in 1995, now has outposts in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A bill to make the program available to all children 5 or younger in California passed the Senate Education Committee last week. The bill was authored by state senators Shannon Grove and Toni Atkins, and the new program would be directed by the state librarian.

Since its inception, the program has delivered more than 178 million books. Enrolled children receive one book every month at no cost to their families until their fifth birthday.

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Books are selected by a panel of early childhood literacy experts. They are chosen based on age-appropriateness, with an emphasis on encouraging imagination and inspiration, according to the program’s website.

Some recent selections include Hair Love, Milo’s Hat Trick, Llama Llama Red Pajama and more.

On social media, the Imagination Library offers pointers on how to keep children engaged in reading, such as pointing out letters and numbers, asking questions about the story, and having the child help turn the pages.

Early literacy is widely studied and has been proven time and again to have long-lasting benefits. According to a study published online in the journal Parenting in 2015, the more time parents spent reading to young children, the more motivated those children were to continue reading. That, in turn, led to higher educational achievements.

The bill will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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