I don’t know when we first became aware of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. When we were in the hospital after Elliott was born, I remember completing some sort of registration but honestly, I had just become a mother and I’m lucky I remember anything. Needless to say, I forgot about the whole thing until that first book came in the mail.
(For those who don’t know, the Imagination Library is a program begun by Dolly Parton to provide books to children at no cost to the family. Charitable, of course, but the book selection for our area are playful, visually beautiful, diverse, and aware. Click to learn more or to register a child.)
Every month we receive a new book in our mailbox and most of the time, it’s an instant hit. There have been a few that don’t make the shelf and some that have been loved to pieces (literally). The program is spectacular and we are so glad to be a part of it. There is information on the website about starting a program in your area and I encourage you to do so if not already!
For moms looking for new material and to satisfy my own desire to appear on Reading Rainbow, here in no particular order are five of our favorites over the last three years (the primary criteria being my son’s enjoyment of them and my own appreciation being second):
(written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; illustrated by David Clark)
This humorous tale of a dinosaur who roars “MINE” at every opportunity to share came at the perfect time for our introduction to the toddler years. Our own little mine-o-saur loved roaring along and the consequences of the dinosaurs actions were not lost on his young mind. Even a year later, we still toss around the nickname when Elliott starts stockpiling.
(written by Victoria Adler; pictures by Hiroe Nakata)
A book that rhymes is always more fun to read and thus, more fun to hear. We always begin with giggles and end with sweet snuggles as the words grow more tender. The illustrations are vibrant and playful and I love the inclusion of grandparents. I often quote the last few lines to my own sweet baby.
(written and illustrated by Annie Bach)
A book about nighttime and sleep when you are trying to put your child to bed can be a big help. This bedtime tale shows the gentle moments between nature’s parents and their youngsters. My son loves finding the tiny details in each illustration and I’m happy to explain the questions he has about the creatures on each page. This book has been a favorite for over a year.
(written by Susan Ring; illustrated Stephanie Peterson)
Just as my son began to discover his own features, this book arrived. The narrative sent my son on a scavenger hunt for his nose every single time. Spoiler alert: he found his nose easily with the mylar mirror at the end of the book. I loved the book because it encouraged his curiosity and the thrill of discovery.
(written by Christine McDonnell; illustrated by Jeff Mack)
This sweet story follows a dog who, you guessed it, wants to play. Elliott loved the voices we created for each of the animals and I appreciate the celebration of enthusiasm. This book is certainly one my wild one can relate to. The illustrations are warm and fuzzy. I don’t like to read too much into young children’s literature but I do think there is a lesson about perseverance and friendship in this book.
Does your child receive books through the Imagination Library? If so, share some of your favorites below in the comments.