United Way Australia has a Cradle to Career education strategy called ReadLearnSucceed (RLS). One of its aims is to tackle the statistic that 1 in 5 children start school without the basics to succeed. The program endeavours to support children, parents and the community to ensure more children start school with the literacy skills required to learn.
As part of our ReadLearnSucceed strategy, United Way Australia acquired the licence for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Australia in early 2013. This initiative, in partnership with Penguin Books Australia, delivers a quality, age-appropriate book once a month direct to children at home from birth to 5 years old in targeted communities. Our vision is that all children start school ready to read and learn so that they can succeed in life. Over the next 5 years we aim to inspire, educate and equip families from identified communities with the means to support early childhood literacy.
As books are a fundamental component of the program, we have a book selection committee in place to review the current range of books provided by our program partner, Penguin Books Australia and recommend new titles to refresh the library from time to time, ensuring that children and particularly younger siblings receive a range of titles over their time with the library.
The committee represents independent experts in the field of children’s education.
|Jane Godwin (Chair)
||Marketing Manager, Education
||Penguin Books Australia
|Professor Eileen Bridget Raban
||Research Fellow in early literacy
||University of Melbourne
|Sherree Geronimo or Jo Longo
||Early Childhood Worker
||HIPPY Dandenong Coordinator
||Southern Migrant Resource Centre (Dandenong)
||Aboriginal Best Start Facilitator
||Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Ltd
The scope of the committee is to meet every other year for a period of 2 years (i.e. two reviews) to review and recommend 12 books for each of the 5 age groups (0- <1 years, 1-1+ years ,2-2+ years,3-3+ years, 4-4+ years, 5-5+) serviced by the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The first committee meeting was held on the 13th of November at the Penguin Books Australia office in Melbourne. 6 out of the 7 members were present. The committee spent a day reviewing carefully each category of books ensuring that the books were age appropriate, enjoyable and educative –ultimately helping children build a good foundation and equipping them to succeed in school.
The criteria of selection followed for each age group was as follows:
- Year One - Minimal text, playful, colourful, board pages, nurture/attachment/lullaby themes
- Year Two - Continue concepts from year one and build upon them to include repetition and predictability, rhythm and rhyme. A focus on generating language, familiar themes, nursery rhymes, colours, letters, numbers, simple stories was also applied.
- Year Three - Wordless books, values/character/issues – slightly more complex stories, introduction of colours, letters, numbers, and extension of nursery rhymes
- Year Four - More complex stories that encompass the themes of Diversity and Humour, plus more complex language use
- Year Five - School preparation and readiness, non-fiction, folk tales, more complex voice, stories and language use
The outcome of the day was an excellent selection of 72 books categorized per age group for children across Australia signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
"Reading books to babies, in and out of the womb is the stuff of lived imagination, creativity and successful development."
- Eileen Bridget Raban
“United Way’s Imagination Library has a fantastic range of books that will be loved by all children and will lay a great foundation for reading”
- Jessica Broome
"The Imagination library gives families the opportunity to share quality books with their children."
- Sherree Geronimo