Welcome to the Imagination Library of Charles County!

CCPL is proud to announce that we have partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Southern Maryland Regional Library Association (SMRLA) to bring this special program to Charles County. This program puts books into the hands (and hearts!) of children under five in Charles County, every month for FREE! 

Each Imagination Library book is specially selected, age-appropriate and personalized with your child’s name. Each month, a book will be delivered directly to your home for a unique gifting experience that will get your child excited about reading. 

Please click on the Register Today button below to complete the online registration to register the eligible children in your household for the Imagination Library of Charles County. If you would like to download a PDF version and submit it via mail, click here: English version, Spanish version. If you have any questions or need help filling out the application, please contact us via phone to speak with a CCPL staff member, email us or see our FAQs below to learn more. 

Once you have registered, you should receive an email from our partner, Imagination Library confirming your acceptance into the program. This email will NOT come from CCPL but from Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

This program was made possible in part by a generous donation from the Citizens for the Charles County Public Library, Inc (C4CCPL).

The Imagination Library of Charles County is supported by our community—by local businesses, corporations, grants, and individual donors like you! Consider making a donation today by clicking in the “Support the Imagination Library of Charles County” section below to help us grow Charles County’s future readers.

Step 1: Register

Parents must register each child under five in their family. Signing up online is the easiest and quickest way to enroll, or you may complete a paper registration form. Forms are available for download in English or Spanish, for pick up at any Charles County Public Library location or call 301.645.1395 Ext. 424 for assistance from a CCPL staff member.

Step 2. Read

Reading with your child every day is one of the best ways to prepare them for success in school and in life. Your child’s first book will arrive in 6-10 weeks. After the initial wait, your child will receive a book every month until he or she turns 5! Please keep in mind that CCPL is not involved in the shipping process. All books are sent through the US Postal Service.

Step 3: Keep Your Address Updated

Parents must update their address each time they move. Books are not forwarded with the mail. Visit our online Parent Portal to update your profile or call 301.645.1395 to keep us posted with your most up-to-date contact information.

Who is eligible to receive free books? 

This program is open to all children who reside either full-time or part-time at an address within Charles County, Maryland. Children must be 4 years and 11 months old or younger to qualify. Any child older than 4 years and 11 months at the time of registration is not eligible for the program.

How can I register my child to receive free books? 

Click on the Register Today! button on this page and fill out the online form on that page, visit one of our branches to fill out a paper application, or get assistance from staff for the online or paper application when you visit one of our branches. 

How do I know if my child was accepted into the program?

If you provide an email address with your registration you will be notified via email when the registration is approved or entered into our system.  If you do not have an email address you will need to contact a CCPL branch for assistance, but please keep in mind that it does take 6-9 weeks for books to start arriving after approval.  

How do I get my login information?

If an email address was added to your child’s record upon registration, this will serve as your username. If you do not know your password, please request a new password using the New Password/Forgot Password link on the login page. If your link has expired or is invalid, you can request a new link at any time by visiting www.imaginationlibrary.com/bos.

If there is not an email address on your child’s account, you will need to contact a CCPL branch for assistance. 

Can I register my niece, nephew, grandchild, etc., even though I am not their parent or guardian? 

No. You must be the child’s parent or legal guardian to register them for this program.

How will my child receive their books? 

All books will be delivered to the address you provided us at registration by the U.S. Postal Service. If the book does not fit in your mailbox or the post office is unable to deliver your book for any other reason, you will be left specific instructions on how to retrieve your books from your local post office. If you believe that you are having issues with your delivery please confirm that you have the correct address listed in your account information and then contact the post office closest to your mailing address. 

The Library is not responsible for lost or stolen packages The books are processed through Dolly Parton Imagination Library, CCPL has no control over this process. The books are sent through and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, therefore we do not have control over the delivery process. 

How long does it take to start receiving books?

After you register your child, it may take up to six to nine weeks for the first book to arrive. After that, the books will arrive every month.

Do all children receive the same books?

Each child within an age group receives the same monthly book.

Imagination Library makes sure children receive an appropriate book by allocating them to an age group based on their year of birth. For example, children born in 2019 will receive board books with minimal text focusing on nurture and attachment, whereas a child born in 2015 will receive a softcover picture book, covering more complex concepts.  

A child enrolled from birth to their fifth birthday will build their own home library of up to 60 books. Learn more about the types of books available here

What happens if I move? 

If you move, please log into your account to change the primary address you have listed in your account. You may also contact us to help you make this change to your account. Please keep in mind if you move outside of Charles County, MD, you will no longer be eligible to receive books through the Imagination Library of Charles County. You will need to check the availability of an Imagination Library in the area where you are moving here. Please allow up to 30 days for changes to your account to take effect.

When will my child stop receiving books? 

Upon turning 5 years of age, your child will stop receiving his/her monthly book. In addition, if your child moves to an address outside of Charles County, they will no longer be eligible to receive books.

What if I have more than one child who is eligible? 

As long as your children are under the age of 4 years and 11 months and live in Charles County, they are eligible for the program. Regardless of the amount of eligible children in your household, every eligible child will receive their own book each month.

What kinds of books will you be sending? 

Children will receive books that are appropriate for their age. Books are selected by professionals who choose books that reflect a diversity of people and cultures, and that promote self-esteem and a love of reading.

Do you offer bilingual books? How do I get bilingual books?

Yes, the Imagination Library does include some bilingual (English/Spanish) books for children living in the U.S., and we are always working to expand that selection.  You can see a full list of this year’s books, including the bilingual options, here.

Do you offer audio books or books in Braille?

As of now, thanks to a collaborative effort between Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Penguin Group, USA, an ever expanding collection of titles will be available as free downloadable children’s audio books and for those who prefer, there will be many titles available in braille from APH. These will be offered free-of-charge to eligible families and may be purchased at a low cost by all others. For more information, visit https://imaginationlibrary.com/usa/audio-braille/.

Is there a registration deadline? 

No. Registration is ongoing. However, please keep in mind that only children ages birth to 4 years and 11 months old are eligible to receive books. If your child is older than 4 years and 11 months at the time of registration, they will not be eligible for the program.

What can I do if my child is NOT eligible for the program? 

If your child is too old or does not live in Charles County, there are still plenty of ways that you can use your local library to help your child become a better and more active reader. The Library has programming for school aged children and Story times for children from birth-5 years old. Visit our events calendar to find our programming for all ages. 

CCPL also has an early literacy program called 500 by 5, where children ages birth to 5 years old can receive a free tote bag and a book tracking activity book to track their reading. There is no zip code requirement to participate. Click here for more information.

What if I no longer want my child to receive free books? 

If you no longer want to receive books, you can log into your account and select to discontinue your book delivery at any time.

I’ve stopped receiving books, what should I do?

If your child stopped receiving books, please contact us so we can make sure your account and mailing address is up to date.

What do I do when I’m done with my books? 

We believe these books have great value and can be read over and over. Many times children will want to read books over and over again before completely moving on from them. Books also find value when passed along to family and friends.

How can I make a donation to the Imagination Library of Charles County?

Visit our Support CCPL page to learn more about all of the ways you can help CCPL keep this wonderful, free program going. 

Who pays for the books?

Books are paid for by CCPL as well as a variety of donations from foundations, corporations, grants and donors like you!

The Imagination Library of Charles County is administered through Charles County Public Library. The Dollywood Foundation manages operational details of the program in over 1,200 communities, including book selection for the Library, price negotiation, and distribution logistics.

How it began

Dolly Parton knows that reading to young children is the best way to prepare them for school and for life. That’s why she started the Imagination Library. In 1996, she began sending books in the mail to the young children of Sevier County, TN regardless of their family’s income. Since then, she and The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation have expanded the program across the United States. 

The Imagination Library of Charles County was spearheaded by the library’s Executive Director, KennethWayne Thompson. 

Research and effectiveness of the program

Studies show the impact that early exposure to books has on brain development. Through books, children learn about the world around them, shapes and colors, and letter recognition. They also learn to use their imaginations and to form stories and narratives that help them make sense of their young lives. But maybe the most important thing they learn while reading with their parents or caretakers is that they are valued and loved. When a child is read to, there’s a lot more going on than the important task of learning. Quiet time with a loved one creates a sense of belonging that lasts forever.

The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation authored a comprehensive analysis of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee. Three themes that emerged from the report were:

1) Children’s excitement upon receiving books

2) Expanded home literacy practices

3) Positive changes in the way parents spent time with their children

Read the Study here:

Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation’s Impact Analysis of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee

Imagination Library of Charles County

Support children under 5 years old in Charles County by helping to provide them FREE books from birth!
$25 supports 1 child for a full year | $125 supports 1 child for the duration of their time in the program.