Imagination Library - Free books for preschoolers

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a winner.

Imagination Library - Free books for preschoolers

$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

It is my quest to replicate the wonderful "Imagination Library" program to all First Nation communities in Manitoba, a goal that I set three years ago.This program provides brand new, pre-selected books to each and every child in a community. The books would be delivered right to their mailbox, each and every month. That means over 11,000 children will receive these exciting resources and there is absolutely no costs to families! Communities do need to find sponsors, community champions to replicate the program. As a First Nation woman, most of my life has been devoted to working with Aboriginal communities. Much of the focus on parenting and early years and how best to support families as they children develop through the preschooler years and begin school "ready". Most of our First Nation communities do not have access to libraries or most families cannot afford the cost of buying books regularly for their children. Also our First Nation youth suffer four times the drop out rate compared to others. Academic success begins in the home at birth with parents/caregivers as "first teachers". We need to provide our families with the best tools available and a better understanding of the importance of literacy, language and learning. I feel very passionate about promoting the benefits of family literacy throughout communities in particularly the early years. I have had the pleasure of working with 14 First Nations communities that have successfully replicated the Imagination Library program for their children. We have heard raves of success stories from parents about children believing it is their birthday each month, what they learned from their "Dolly" books. We always mention to parents that even though the books are free, your investment is to read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day. I have also heard from another 32 communities that would like to replicate the program but cannot afford the funds or do not have the support of sponsors. There has never been a more defined need to provide literacy resources in our communities. As a volunteer, I will be approaching many levels of government, financial institutions, private corporations, etc. to find the funds needed for existing communities to replicate the Imagination Library program. A number individuals have come forth to volunteer their time with assisting me in my endeavours as well. A strong partnership has also been developed with Bookmates Family Literacy Resource Centre to provide training to reps from communities on "how best" to utilize the books and how important it is to promote the love of reading in the home. Memories are made in the laps of parents/caregivers reading to their child. The communities will receive over 660,000 books for an initial five year period, each and every child will begin school with a personal library of 60 books. All books are selected on ages and stages and promote kindergarten readiness, manners, sharing, etc. I imagine five years from now when our children begin school immersed with the love of reading. Research shows that early literacy, early reading makes such a significant impact on academic success and if that doesn't do it, there is also the fact that some US states plan their future jail cells based on the Grade 3 reading levels.

As a single parent who has had a child in reading recovery all of his elementary years and now has daily struggles with high school, I can attest to the importance that reading plays throughout early years and the school system. But more importantly the affect it also has on self-esteem and confidence, when children/youth struggle with literacy at any age. The books might be not life changing for everyone but for that little boy who waits anxiously for his monthly book to arrive and how he chooses that over toys, etc. we are making some progress. Change takes time but we all need to do our part to promote academic success in our communities and that starts from birth.

About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Confirm a user name that will be displayed publicly to identify your entry

Karen Davis

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization

Manitoba Imagination Library Program

Please confirm that this project could benefit First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples


Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Youtube URL
What categories best describe who your group or organization serves (check all that apply)

First Nations people.

What best describes your group or organization

Early childhood (e.g. daycare, preschool).

How long have you, your group, or your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

To replicate the Imagination Library that will provide free books into the hands, homes and hearts of our families in Manitoba First Nation communities.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Start-Up (a project that is just getting started)

Social Impact
Please tell us about the social impact of your idea or proect

I truly believe the social impact of this initiative will be life changing for some families. Literacy awareness has significant educational benefits for everyone. It has been stated "Life without literacy is life without hope". In many of our communities there is a need for literacy awareness and a better understanding of what is needed to reach academic success for our children . I believe the gift we can provide for our preschoolers, families and the community as a whole will have a direct impact on their future. The strong foundation that can be built upon literacy success could directly affect many of the social determinants of health that affect our communities.

Your Future Goal(s): Tell us what you hope to achieve with your idea or project in the next year

To work with First Nations communities to ensure books are being delivered and family literacy activities are being promoted.

In 5 years, what will be different as a result of your idea/project?

We will have a new generation of readers in our First Nation communities.
Children entering kindergarten will be exposed to a variety of books promoting school readiness skills and the love of reading. Parents/ caregivers will have a better understanding of the importance of literacy and know the value of shared story time. Children feel more confident in beginning school "ready" and teachers will notice a vast improvement in skill development and also see a large increase of "those children who have been read to" as opposed to a child holding a book not really sure what to do with it. Partnerships will be developed to improve family literacy rates in the community. More emphasis placed on the importance of learning, literacy and language through an community Early Years strategy.

Tell us about the people/ partnerships that are already involved and why they are important to your idea or project.

I have demonstrated the community need and have the support of key people in First Nation gov't who know the value of the initiative that I have developed. I have many friends/colleagues, organizations who are assisting with promotion, networking, etc. I have managed to contact key people in Government, Corporations, Financial organizations that have invited me to send in proposals, grant applications, etc. The biggest partnership to date is the Dollywood Foundation who will be coming to Manitoba to meet with reps from various organizations to finalize contracts, agreements, etc. We are working on a provincial replication model that has been done in one other province. It is also hoped with the promotion of this initiative additional communities in Manitoba will want to replicate.

If there are other people/partners that you will reach out to tell us who they are and why they will be important to your idea or project.

I have presented to a number of school staff about the benefits of the Imagination Library. Many are excited about the possibility of free books and family literacy awareness activities. The most important people in this initiative are the families but more so the potential partners that realize the true benefit of what I am trying to accomplish in our communities. I will be approaching First Nation Inuit Health, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Provincial Government, Tribal Council Investment Group, RCMP, Frontier School Division, Banks and Credit Unions, Businesses and Private Corporations. It is important that I gain the support of those who feel literacy is important and an investment in early years is crucial. Although the fundraising is focused on the first five years, there will be a plan developed to ensure the program is sustainable beyond the five year period.

Describe the kinds of support you receive (other than money) or will need to support your idea or project (e.g.: donated, space, equipment and volunteers)

I have received various types of support to date regarding networking, media outlets, promotional opportunities, etc. Once the initiative goes into full swing, I will require volunteers from the community to assist in promotion of the program, literacy activities, etc. I will ensure that strong partnerships are developed by those organizations serving early years to ensure that all families are aware of the Imagination Library program. This is one of the best non-threatening engagement tools for even the most isolated families in a community. I would also like others to promote the program to other communities in Manitoba so that eventually all children could benefit from the Imagination Library Program. It is much more beneficial to have too many books in a home that none at all.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

No (skip next two questions)