Dolly Parton pairs up with NSW Government to boost literacy in the early years
Dolly Parton’s charitable organisation, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library will work with the New South Wales Government to help boost children’s literacy levels as part of an $8 million partnership.
Five years of funding for the partnership was included in the 2021-22 NSW Budget, with NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet outlining that the Department of Education will join forces with United Way Australia to deliver free books to families across the State, with a focus on those most vulnerable.
“Opening up a book helps to open a child’s mind and this early literacy program will give young children across the State more opportunities to do just that,” Mr Perrottet said.
Children participating in the program will be given a free book from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library each month until they start school to encourage their reading and give them the best start possible in life.
The program currently supports over 3,000 children in 17 communities across NSW, including Ryde, Mount Druitt and Tamworth. The 2021-22 Budget investment will increase the program’s reach to 15,000 children in vulnerable communities, to boost their school readiness.
NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said the measure reinforced the positive impact of early childhood experiences on children’s learning.
“The opportunity for parents to read with their young children is something I want every family in NSW to experience. The research shows that children who start reading early and often will benefit across every aspect of their life and well into adulthood,” Ms Mitchell said.
“This program is part of this government’s commitment under Brighter Beginnings to support families in the first 2000 days of their child’s life, so that children can start school with a solid foundation for lifelong learning.”
Since the Imagination Library first opened, more than 150 million free books have been sent to children in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
“I’m so thrilled to learn that my Imagination Library will be an important part of the NSW Government’s ‘Brighter Beginnings’ initiative,” Ms Parton said.
“I always say, you can never get enough books into the hands of young children, and I’m grateful the Treasurer and Minister Mitchell share our vision for getting books to children and families.”
United Way Australia partners with publishers, families, authors, librarians and academics to select age appropriate and culturally sensitive local and international materials.
Families and carers participating in the program will also have the benefit of targeted advice on how to boost their children’s early language and literacy development through reading, as well as connections to local community and support programs.
To learn more about the Imagination Library, see here.