Imagination Library Kippax

Imagination Library Project Overview

In March this year, A Village for Every Child and its partner organisations brought together practitioners and policy people from across ACT Government Directorates and non-government organisations along with philanthropists to explore an opportunity to support the implementation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in the ACT. The result was a decision to pilot two programs. One delivered by Evatt Primary School for the Evatt and McKellar communities, and the other coordinated by a collaboration of interested stakeholders, for the suburbs of Holt, MacGregor, Higgins and Latham. These suburbs feed into Kippax which is a central hub for services including Kippax Library, the West Belconnen Child & Family Centre and UnitingCare Kippax. These suburbs were chosen based on data from the Australian Early Development Census, which identified children experiencing higher levels of developmental vulnerability.

Imagination Library Kippax

Imagination Library is a free book gifting program aimed at inspiring a love of reading in children. Enrolled children receive a high-quality, age-appropriate book in the mail every month, at no cost. This program caters to children from birth to age five and aligns with the Early Childhood Strategy and Best Start for Canberra’s Children. It directly addresses the need to enhance the school readiness of children in Belconnen by increasing their exposure to literacy within their homes.

Thanks to the inspiration and advocacy of the Collective Implementation Group, the secured funding for Imagination Library Kippax Pilot will enable 146 children (0-3 years) to access the program for two years. Village and its partners are actively seeking additional funding to support more children to enrol in the program.

Who can join Imagination Library Kippax?

Families living in the Kippax region including Holt, Higgins, Latham, and Macgregor with children aged 0-3 years, for a minimum period of two years, are being enrolled in Imagination Library Kippax. Children from birth to 5 years receive a free book each month delivered to their house, and a tip sheet is provided to the families to support them to engage in the books. Through this program families enjoy and learn about the importance of reading together.

Enrolling partners include Early Family Support (EFS) and Maternal and Child Health (MACH) services, Uniting Children and Families ACT, Capital Region Community Services (CRCS), HIPPY and The Smith Family. Enrolment by these services is currently the only way for families to access Imagination Library. With increased investment, the program will be expanded to enrol families across whole of community in these and other suburbs.

For more information, please contact village@kippax.org.au

Why is reading important?

Did you know that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of life?

The most effective way to promote healthy brain development in your baby or child is through loving interactions between you and them. Reading with your child has numerous benefits for their development, including language and vocabulary development, school readiness, early literacy and reading skills, and helps create a stronger bond between you and your child.

Children who start school behind tend to stay behind, and this can have lifelong impacts on their education, employment, income, health, and life satisfaction. Providing children with strong foundations in literacy, language, responsive interactions with parents, connections to their local community and child development service providers in their most crucial brain development years is one of the best ways to impact social change and positive lifelong outcomes.

Social Story

This is a Social Story to help understand what Imagination Library is for people who might be neurodiverse, are not confident readers, where English isn’t their first language, and who might benefit from a visual guide.

The aim of this project is to:

  • Support the early literacy home environment of children in the Kippax area.
  • Contribute to the decreasing development vulnerability of the Kippax region according to the AEDC.
  • Strengthen partnership and connections between community services operating in the region.
  • Strengthen partnerships and connections between community services and families in Kippax.
  • Work collaboratively to achieve shared values and visions of enriching early childhood development.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is was started by the famous country singer Dolly Parton in 1995. The program was first brought to Australia in 2013 in a joint effort between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the United Way Australia. The program is in operates in all jurisdictions in Australia, with exception of Canberra and Tasmania.

Impact on Communities using Imagination Library

In October 2022, an independent Impact assessment was carried out in Australia and the findings included improved literacy skills resulting in improved year 3 NAPLAN scores and strengthened connection within and between families and the broader community.

An example of another community using Imagination Library is Tamworth Regional Council and partners. It was found that after 6 months:

  • The proportion of parents reading to their child more than once a day doubled.
  • Parents reading to their child for more than 10 minutes a day more than doubled.
  • New methods of reading, such as counting objects and describing images, increased substantially across all methods surveyed.
  • The introduction of the Imagination Library to homes saw a substantial increase in other people reading to the child.
  • The Imagination Library substantially increased parents’ confidence to read, their enjoyment of reading to their child, and their belief that reading is important.
  • 81% of parents surveyed reported spending more quality time together as a family with books after receiving the Imagination Library.

[Reference: Krikmann, L., United Way Australia presentation, March 2023]

“The wonderful thing about this program is that it not only supports improved literacy and family connection outcomes, but creates the opportunity to engage families in wrap around services and activities that enhance their experience. Some examples of this may include activities in libraries using the Imagination Library books, links to services, programs or playgroups and the opportunity to form connections between Imagination Library families”.

Participant

Thank you to the Lyone Foundation, powered by the support of Complete Office Supplies for the seed funding which has allowed us to bring Imagination Library to children in Canberra.

Thank you to the Canberra Mothercraft for your generous donation, which plays a crucial role in supporting more children to enrol in the Imagination Library program.

Partner Organisations for the Imagination Library Kippax