My First Bookshelf, in partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, is a new Library program that delivers one free book each month to children from birth to age five

Your donation of only $5.50 can put a new book in the hands of a child.

For many, this will be the first book they have ever owned.

  • 1 in 4
    children start school behind their peers in reading and language skills
  • 20
    Research shows that having even 20 books at home fosters a love of learning
  • 90%
    of a child’s brain development happens before age five

Frequently Asked Questions

My First Bookshelf is a free program that delivers (by postal mail to a child’s home) an age-appropriate, personalized book once a month from birth to age five. That’s 60 books for a child’s bookshelf by their fifth birthday!

Calgary Public Library wants to help every child begin a reading journey, and owning a book is a special first step in building a lifelong relationship with the Library and its many resources. Children often face barriers to Library access for any number of reasons, but early years are vital to literacy development. Calgary Public Library, in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is uniquely positioned to reach these children and inspire a love of reading. This experience, and corresponding Library programming, will strengthen early literacy and the connection to the Library for the whole family.

Having access to books in the home has been shown to increase a child’s academic success, vocabulary development, and attention. Increased access to books encourages greater literacy levels in children, which means they’re more likely to become lifelong readers and learners. In partnership with the Imagination Library, Calgary Public Library hopes to support families during their child’s earliest years in building their very own home libraries. The more books children have access to, the better!

Since 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has delivered more than 90 million books to children in more than 2,000 communities worldwide. Through the partnership, the Imagination Library manages the system to deliver the books, procures high-quality books from publishers at a reduced cost through special print runs, personalizes the books with the child’s name, and facilitates all packaging, shipping, and handling. This allows the Library to focus on building relationships with families in the community.

The goal is to register 1,000 children for the Calgary program in the first year. The Calgary Public Library Foundation has an ambitious goal of expanding the program to bring a love of reading into the homes of children across Calgary. There are nearly 90,000 children under the age of five in Calgary. Together, we are removing the barriers that children in our community face to literacy and development.

Thanks to support from Canada Life, Rotary Club of Calgary East, Rotary Partners of Calgary at Stampede Park, donors to the Calgary Public Library Foundation, and the partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, this program is completely donor funded. We hope to eventually expand this program across Calgary, and need your support to make this happen. Donate now to help us put books on a child’s very first bookshelf.

In partnership with:

The My First Bookshelf pilot is made possible thanks to

Canada Life, Rotary Club of Calgary East, Rotary Partners of Calgary at Stampede Park, and donors of the Calgary Public Library Foundation.