Governor Mills: Ensuring every Maine child has access to free, high-quality books

July 22, 2022

Last week, I was truly proud to host the National Governor’s Association Annual Summer Meeting in Portland, Maine and I was proud to join the iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton to announce that the State of Maine is launching a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in 2023.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

You know, the simple act of reading out loud to a child stimulates brain development, it reduces stress and anxiety, it builds vocabulary, and develops the literacy skills that child needs to succeed in school and in life. 

Supporting childhood literacy also has significant impacts on our economy.  Our state needs every person to be able to contribute and that starts with giving them the skills they need at an early age.

So through our Department of Education, my Administration has been working hard to increase early childhood literacy rates in the State of Maine.

Every year, we sponsor the statewide “Read to Me” challenge to encourage adults to read to their children.

This spring, with the support of the Legislature, we invested $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to create and expand pre-school programs across the State.

This summer, we are hosting our first ever Educator Summit to train our teachers in the most effective, evidence-based practices for increasing childhood literacy.

Later this fall, we are creating “Literacy for ME 2.0” to revamp our statewide literacy plan and we are creating the “Maine Association for Improving Literacy” to mobilize a network of educators who are committed to supporting statewide literacy efforts. 

And last week, I was proud to announce that the State of Maine is officially joining Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide free, high quality books every month to every child age 0 to 5 in our state. This program will complement existing programs in the state of Maine including the Libra Foundation’s Raising Readers and the Cashman family’s Dirigo Reads.

With the support of our Legislature, we’ve now dedicated $200,000 in the biennial budget to go to the Maine State Library to partner with local libraries to distribute the Imagination Library books statewide. Imagine, a paperback book coming to your child every month.

The Imagination Library will provide more than 105,000 books to local libraries for an estimated 14,000 children in the first year of this program. This will generate inspiration, education, and joy in every child’s life, no matter what else may be going on.

We hope to extend this program beyond local libraries to school districts across the State of Maine until every child has access to free, high-quality books every month.

Maine is proud to join the family of states who participate in the Imagination Library. And on behalf of all the Maine children, and parents, who will be served by this program, I got to thank Dolly Parton for her investment in our state and in the nation’s children.

This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.