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Dolly Parton Imagination Library Study

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In 1995, Dolly Parton launched the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly's vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.

The Picard Center is working with the United Way of Acadiana in evaluating the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program here in Acadiana. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program provides free books to children from birth to kindergarten. The goal of the evaluation is to study the success of book recipients and their kindergarten pre-literacy skills. The current evaluation is focusing on two school years, 2015 and 2016. In the past, the program has been very popular with parents and is effective at increasing pre-literacy skills of children entering kindergarten.

In past studies, the assessment showed that DPIL students were 9% more likely than the comparison group to be on benchmark (74% versus 65%), demonstrating a significant difference. DPIL students were better able to move from below benchmark to on benchmark. This overall effect is further supported by the DPIL gap closure for historically endangered subgroups. While the program does not guarantee future success, there is a reason to believe in a positive effect of the program, especially in combination with kindergarten.