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Imagination Library FAQs

PARENT FAQs

The Imagination Library is currently supported in almost 50 communities across Australia.
Each community funds spaces for a specific number of local children to receive free books monthly, therefore there are limited spaces available each year.

How can I find out which areas are covered?
Please check the map on our Registration page.

What do I do if I want to enroll but my area is not covered – what can I do?
You can register to be placed on our waitlist by clicking here, and we’ll notify you when an Imagination Library is started in your community.

What do I do after signing up?
Enjoy reading with your child every day, and have fun using the monthly reading resources that come with each book as well as exploring your local library.

I’m moving house; will I be able to continue receiving books?
Your local Imagination Library coordinator can advise you whether your new area is funded. Check the map to find and email your local coordinator directly.

How do I update my address?
You can update your address in the parents log-in area, this will be sent to your local Imagination Library coordinator for approval. If you don’t have access to the portal please email the coordinator of your Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (email details are available on the map here). Please be advised that it will take between 4-8 weeks for the next book to arrive at your new address due to our advance ordering system.

I have a new email address, how do I change it?
Please contact your local coordinator if you have changed the email address you used when enrolling, so you continue receiving resources. Check the map to find and email your local coordinator directly.

I have recently updated my address but have not received my book – how long should this take?
Due to advance ordering the distribution list for the upcoming month has already generated with your previous address, and will be updated for subsequent mailouts. In the case that your mail is not redirected, your book will be sent back to the coordinator of your area. Please allow a wait time between 4-8 weeks for books to start receiving books to your new address.

I’ve not received books after initial waiting period, what do I do?
Please contact your local Imagination Library coordinator. Check the map to find and email your local coordinator directly.

I have a friend/family member who lives in my suburb and would like to join the Imagination Library, how can they join?
Your friend/family member will need to register their child to their local Imagination Library (if one is available in their community – please check the map here). The local Imagination Library coordinator will be able to advise if there are spaces available or if they will need to be placed on a waitlist.

I have twins, will I receive different books?
There are six individually selected titles per month to cater for children from newborn to age 5, with a total of 72 books in all. At this stage we don’t have capacity to include a second book each month for each age group. Therefore, you can opt to have one book sent to share, or to receive the same book for each child.

I have received duplicate books for my younger child, is this correct?
As books for our Imagination Library are determined for two years at a time, when siblings are a year apart the younger child will receive the same books as the elder child.

Can I track my books?
To keep the postage and program costs down books are not tracked, however you will be advised of the date of pick up by Australia Post through the parent online portal.

When will my next book be delivered?
Each month books are picked up by Australia Post around the 10th of the month, with an estimated delivery date of by 15th of each month.

When will I receive the regular e-newsletter?
Your monthly e-news will be sent at around about the same time or just after your book arrives.

I have received a newsletter but not my book – when is it arriving?
The book should be on its way and will shortly arrive shortly. You can log into your parent portal to see what date the book has been picked up by Australia Post.

I have been on the program for a while and haven’t received books for several months – what should I do?
Please contact your local coordinator to let them know if you have moved address recently or reconfirm your address. If your address has not changed please provide an alternative secure address.

My book was damaged in the post, what do I do?
If this is an ongoing occurrence, you will need to advise your local post office, and/or let us know an alternative address for your mail. On a per-case basis a coordinator may be able to provide you with an alternative available book for your child’s age group.

I received a book that is not suitable for my child (gender, age), how do I resolve this?
Please send us your feedback by via email.

Community Partner FAQs

Why is United Way investing in the Imagination Library?
Around 750,000 children in Australia begin school without the skills to take off on the learning adventure. These skills include higher order thinking skills like the ability to concentrate, understand simple stories, predict outcomes; basic skills like recognising shapes, colours, numbers, using a pen and understanding rhyme; and emotional/relational skills like imagining how others feel, participating in a discussion etc.

Without these skills, children easily fall behind and statistics show they’re unlikely to catch up. Right now, 46% of Australians have a Year 8 literacy level and 30% of parents don’t read to their children. In this way the cycle of low literacy and disengagement from education continues.

Who can enrol in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library?
The program is open to any child under the age of 5 years (with a cut off date of 4 years and 6 months) within your area. As the coordinator of your area, you may decide on an enrolment strategy of enrolling newborns or enrolments through a service provider.

Where do the books come from and who chooses them?
The range of picture books are supplied by Penguin Books Australia, Dolly Parton Imagination Library’s publishing partner, and have been carefully chosen by our panel of early childhood literacy experts for their age appropriateness and potential to engage the child in reading with their parent or carer.

Who provides the supporting resources for parents to help them engage their children with the books?
Simple, creative ideas about how to read with children are prepared by the team at United Way Australia and supplied with each book. Resources will be available online, via social media (Facebook & Twitter) as well as posted to parents.

How do I order the monthly books that get sent to the children each month?
The Dollywood Foundation has created a Book Ordering System (BOS) database for your use. You may add enrolments at any time throughout the month, these will be placed on the next distribution list at the next monthly process.

How much does it cost to run an Imagination Library?
The cost of running an Imagination Library will depend on the amount of families you would like to support and the length of time you anticipate running the program. To discuss your plans and request an application pack you can reach our Imagination Library Manager at: read@unitedway.com.au or on 02 9321 0300.

What is the process of book ordering?
Each month the BOS database will close off around the 4th of the month. All children enrolled prior to close will be included on the distribution for the following month. For example, for a child is enrolled on 8th July, their distribution list will generated 4th August for September delivery to homes. This gives enough lead time for ordering and packing of books.

I have questions about using the BOS system
Please consult your BOS guide and FAQ within the BOS database before lodging a ticket with your technical support contact provided in your manual. Your enquiry will be answered usually within 2-3 working days.

What is a ‘welcome book’?
The first book mailed in the program is known as a ‘welcome’ book.  Each new enrolment is set with ‘Y’ to receive this book in their first distribution.

Can I order books to promote my Imagination Library?
A promotional pack of 30 titles can be purchased from United Way by emailing read@unitedway.com.au with your full details. Please note there is a lead time of 4-6 weeks due to stock availability.

General Imagination Library FAQs

How did Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library start?
Dolly Parton has always been aware of the importance of reading and writing. Growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, she saw firsthand the lifelong struggles some of her friends and family faced as a result of illiteracy. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading from an early age by providing children with a monthly book. In 1996 she launched the Imagination Library in her home county, delivering quality books directly to children’s homes. In doing so, she gave children the chance to experience the magic of stories and to develop an early love of reading, regardless of their family’s income.

How does providing books in homes from 0-5 achieve change?
The research shows that almost 90% of children who are poor readers in year 1, remain poor readers in year 4. Sadly these children are less likely to complete school, and more likely to fall into poverty later in life.

Early intervention is critical, with children acquiring early literacy skills from birth. The Imagination Library supports children to learn these vital skills, including how to identify letters, numbers and shapes, story comprehension, and how to handle books. With your help, we can ensure no child starts behind.

There’s plenty more research available on how the Imagination Library is helping to improve school readiness and life outcomes, especially for vulnerable children. Visit our research database to find out more.

How are books provided free to children?
A partnership between United Way Australia and Penguin Books enables quality books and literacy resources to be delivered for a monthly fee. Community Partners then fundraise enough money to make the program freely available to every child in their community. So for families, there’s just free books, reading tips, and literacy resources!

Who is United Way Australia?
United Way Australia is a non-profit organisation working to ensure that every child has the chance to reach their full potential. United Way Australia is not affiliated with any political parties, government agencies or religious groups.