Imagination Library



In 2022, United Way of Northeast Arkansas served more than 6,000 children through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, sending out 37,643 books to children across 8 counties. 

Some of our most cherished memories are of “storytime” with someone special ~ usually our parents, sometimes grandparents or even older siblings. These memories bring back the best of childhood; a feeling of peacefulness and security even as we were swept up in the imaginary world spread out before us on the printed page.

It’s sad to think that many, far too many of our children here in Northeast Arkansas never have this experience because they have no books in their homes. Did you know that 35% of kindergartners arrive at school unprepared to learn? The key to literacy is to start at birth. Children develop much of their capacity to learn in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90% of their eventual adult weight. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary; the larger the child’s vocabulary the more likely the child will be a proficient reader. However, in order to read with a child, books must be in the home. In a 1991 study by Needlman, parents given books were four times more likely to read and share books with their children. This rate increased to eight times more likely with lower income parents.

United Way of Northeast Arkansas is changing that for hundreds of those children by bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library directly to them. Through this program, children under five years old receive an age-appropriate hardcover book in the mail every month, mailed to their homes with their name on it. United Way has been targeting this program in low-income areas through preschools such as Head Start to attempt to serve those children most in need.

For $26.40 per year per child, children receive one monthly age appropriate book, until aging out at 5 years old.

Our online enrollment will periodically close due to funding cycles, if our online enrollment is closed, please contact our office at 870.935.3658 or email us at to be placed on the waiting list. 

You must have an official registration form in order to sign your child up for this program. We do not accept photo copies of our registration forms. 


Inspiration & Imagination Book Examples:

Other Fundamental Themes of Regard:

Love of reading and learning; regard for diversity of people, their roles, culture, and environment; promotion of self-esteem and confidence, appreciation of art and aesthetics. Each series of books should contain certain characteristics specific to their age appropriateness including:

Year 1

Vision - bright, big, colorful
Touch - board pages
Rhyme and rhythm
Simple - easy to use
Minimal text - point and say
Playful sound
Nurture - attachment- lullaby themes

Year 2

Continue concepts from year one and build upon them
Repetition and predictability - generate language
Motor skills
“Self-help” activities - things children can do, things familiar in their daily life
Use of real photo illustration
Body awareness
Nursery rhymes
Colors, letters, numbers

Year 3

Wordless books - build your own story (reader and child)
Values and character
Issues - fear, conflict, love, safety
Colors, letters, numbers
Nursery rhymes

Year 4

More complex stories - hero, complication, resolution
Diversity of others - faces, environment - OK to be different
Play, humor, fun
Nursery rhymes and poetry

Year 5

School preparation and readiness
Use rebus (pictures used for words)
Science - non-fiction
Folk tales
Thank you, appreciation
Rhymes and poetry