RENO, Nev. — The Northern Nevada Reading Coalition, an alliance of community partners that is committed to early childhood literacy in Nevada, is expanding Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to 13 counties across northern Nevada. The Imagination Library is the flagship program of the Dollywood Foundation and mails free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to enrolled children from birth until their fifth birthday, regardless of their family’s income. Enrollment opened Sept. 1 and is made possible through the joint efforts of the Northern Nevada Reading Coalition, United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra (UWNNS), and Nevada state legislators.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the most intensive period for speech and language development for an individual is within the first three years of their life. Data demonstrates that reading with young children helps to stimulate brain development. However, the AAP also cites that “80% of those living below the poverty threshold fail to develop reading proficiency by the end of the third grade.” The Imagination Library works to improve that metric and bolster academic performance by encouraging parents to read to their children during this formative period of brain development. Through the expansion, program partners seek to serve 30,000 children and deliver more than 1 million books by 2028.
“Our organization works hard to bring new opportunities for Nevada youth to succeed. We are thrilled to work with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to add more books to children’s libraries across the state and inspire their love for reading,” said Blake Pang, president and CEO at UWNNS. “Thanks to support from our legislative representatives, we can expand this impactful program and welcome any family who wants to begin or enhance reading habits with their children.”
The program is funded in part thanks to the 2023 Nevada State Legislature and coalition members, including: Carson City School District, Churchill County School District, Community Services Agency, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Elko County School District, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Northern Nevada Literacy Council, NV Energy, Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Renown Health, The Children’s Cabinet, Washoe County Library System, Washoe County School District, and United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra.
Families with children younger than five years old are encouraged to register their child. Enrolled children will receive a book selection once a month until their fifth birthday, at which point they will “graduate” from the program. To qualify, families must reside in one of the following 13 counties: Washoe, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Eureka, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, White Pine and Carson City. Families can register their child at www.uwnns.org/DPIL.
To learn about launch events in other counties in northern Nevada, please visit www.uwnns.org/DPIL.