Abbarno’s bipartisan Imagination Library bill to encourage early reading gains House approval

A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. Peter Abbarno that recognizes the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library as a statewide Washington program passed the state House of Representatives Tuesday, 89-7.

The program, named after famous country singer Dolly Parton began in 1995 to inspire a love of reading and provide free books to children ages birth to five-years old. The gifting program mails quality, age-appropriate books to children's homes at no cost to families. 

“About five years ago, I made a commitment as a father to do a better job of reading to my children every night. Not only is reading good for kindergarten readiness and increases cognitive, learning and language skills, but it builds stronger families. It really encourages that precious quality time parents can have with their children. It's a special time in my life that I'll always remember as I create this tradition with my children,” said Abbarno, R-Centralia.

Abbarno says about the same time he began consistently reading with his children, the local Rotary clubs partnered with United Way of Lewis County to begin an Imagination Library in his community.

“I got involved in helping to get that off the ground. For a nominal donation, you can put age-appropriate books in the hands of children from the age of zero to five,” noted Abbarno. “That's an amazing endeavor. The books contain lots of varied age-appropriate subject matter, which helps to prepare children for school.”

House Bill 2068 would expand the early reading program throughout Washington state. The measure would require the state to select a qualified nonprofit organization to operate the program. The organization would contract with a national nonprofit foundation, most likely the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, to identify eligible children and mail age-appropriate, high quality books each month to those children at no cost to families.

“It's a great program. I'm happy to be a part of it, and I want to thank both Representative Monica Stonier and the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest for bringing this legislation to me for co-sponsorship. I can't think of a better gift to give our children to prepare them for their future,” Abbarno concluded.

The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications