United Way Glenelg Initiative

Dolly Parton Imagination Library

Early years literacy in the Glenelg Shire

30.3% of children in the Glenelg Shire are entering school developmentally vulnerable or developmentally at risk (AEDC 2018) which is 8.6% higher than the national average, 21.7%.

This is a significant cause for concern given the impact that oral language abilities have on academic, social and emotional outcomes.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds typically own fewer books than their better off peers.

One approach to addressing the disadvantage that children from low-income homes face with respect to language and literacy has been the introduction of book gifting schemes for pre-school children.

Shared storybook reading has been shown to be a critical activity for parents to engage with prior to school entry (Sénéchal 2015). It has been linked with vocabulary development, listening comprehension, phonological awareness, morphological knowledge and concepts about print, as well as motivation to read.

Early exposure to books via shared reading is therefore critical in supporting vulnerable children’s early language development (Anderson et al. 2019) and later academic outcomes (Duff et al. 2015), as well as being important in cementing relationships between parents and children (Funge, Sullivan, and Tarter 2017).

How are we trying to solve it?

Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) was introduced into the Glenelg Shire in 2013 to provide FREE, age-appropriate books to children from birth to their fifth birthday. By fostering literacy and imagination at an early age, we’re empowering our young ones to dream big and reach for the stars!

This encourages regular and fun engagement between parents/caregivers and children, and each book comes with a flyer containing suggestions for further engagement beyond just reading.

After receiving the Imagination Library for 6 months, 90% of children were being read to regularly (several times a week), a 14% increase from enrolment (before DPIL).

The Imagination Library greatly increased the duration of reading sessions. The proportion of parents reading to their child for between 11 – 20 minutes tripled in the first 6 months from 10% at enrolment to 34% at 6 months. The proportion of parents reading for between 21 – 40 minutes at a time doubled in this time frame.

73% of parents reported feeling more confident to read to their child after 6 months of receiving the Imagination Library.

77% reported an increase spending quality time together as a family with books.

59% reported finding reading with child more enjoyable after receiving DPIL.

We found that the longer families participated in the program, the more parents had interactions with their children whilst reading a book, the longer reading sessions they had, and the more they read to their children on a daily basis.

The program has been successful, currently serving over 420 children across the Glenelg Shire community. To date, over 791 children have graduated from the program.

Portland Aluminium has steadfastly supported the Imagination Library in the Glenelg Shire since its inception in 2013, now in its tenth year.


The Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) is a program that aims to:
  1. Build early literacy key skills: DPIL focuses on helping children develop key literacy skills such as hearing and playing with sounds, handling a book, turning pages, recognizing letters and their shapes, understanding that letters represent sounds and the meaning of words. These are critical for children to develop school readiness.

  2. Support parents to become their child’s first teacher: DPIL works with parents and caregivers to build their confidence and skills in taking on the role of their child’s “first teacher” by educating them about the importance of early learning, literacy, and play as integral to successful entry into school.

  3. Mobilize the Community: DPIL collaborates with community service providers, health providers, and families to develop shared goals, avoid duplication, and improve outcomes for families. By working together, the program aims to better serve the community and make a more significant impact on the lives of children and their families.

Major Partner: Portland Aluminium

Partners: FRRR, Pacific Hydro, Port of Portland and individuals who donate through workplace giving and supporting events.

Sign your child up to receive the gift of a book each month
Make a Donation

Putting a book in a child’s hand opens a new world to them. While it might seem simple, it’s a proven first step towards much more in a child’s life, sparking curiosity and building family bonds in the early years. 

Help us make a positive impact on the lives of those living in the Glenelg Shire community. Make your secure, tax-deductible donation.​

That’s why the Imagination Library brings the magic of a library into the home, with the gift of a book every month before school begins. Each child in the program receives a real, physical book to keep, and kick start a lifelong love of reading.

Please donate today to help assist children and families living in the Glenelg Shire region to thrive! 

All donations to United Way Glenelg are Tax Deductible.

$9.00 provides a book for one child for one month.

$18.00 provides two books for two children for one month.

$108.00 provides books for one child for an entire year!

$216.00 provides books for two children for an entire year! 

Donate Now

Please donate today to help assist children and families living in the Glenelg Shire region to thrive!  Make your secure, tax-deductible donation.

Donate Now

Help us make a positive impact on the lives of those living in the Glenelg Shire region. Make your secure, tax-deductible donation.