Past Imagination Library Contest Finalists

2018: Congratulations

Thank you to everyone who participated in our  Imagination Library Contest! We received many excellent submissions and wished we could have awarded every single family with a prize.The Eugene Public Library Foundation is pleased to congratulate the Heying family for submitting the winning entry, and to our runners up, the Potter, Bryant and Sandoval families, who received honorable mentions.The Heying family received an invitation to the 2018 Imagination Library Luncheon on April 5 at Valley River Inn, and wins a basket of family-friendly and reading-related goodies, including a Kindle eReader, worth around $200. Our runners up received a luncheon invitation and were each awarded a $25 Tsunami Books gift certificate.

Thank you again for your participation and for your support of the Imagination Library. We are so honored to bring this amazing program to our city, in partnership with the Eugene Public Library.

Winner: The Heying Family

(Pictured is Elysia on the left, 8 months old with her first book, and her big sister Adalynn on the right, with her book Maple.)

One of my best memories growing up was reading bed time stories with my grandpa. I excelled in reading and writing in school, and to this day, believe I owe it all to my grandparents for empowering me with the skills to read and really enjoy books. When my little family of 3 moved to Eugene I heard about the Imagination Library program and immediately signed my daughter Adalynn up! We soon after, October 2016, found that our little family would be expanding by one, which meant A LOT of big changes for my three year old. Just after the time we found out about our new addition to the family, I was struggling to find a book to help my toddler understand she was becoming a big sister. Then her October Imagination Library book came in the mail, Maple, by Lori Nichols. Oh my gosh, this book, and the timing was perfect! Adalynn and I read about Maple growing with her tree that her parents planted for her when she was “a whisper”. Soon a new tree was growing and she found she was a big sister. Maple showed her new sister, Willow, the tree she had grown with and kept company with, they laid together under the tree while the leaves danced for the both of them, like it had once done for only Maple. After reading only a few times, my daughter began to understand more and more what having a new baby and being a big sister would entail. Adalynn couldn’t wait to share things and show her new sister things. It really is incredible what children absorb and learn just from words we can read and pictures they can associate with from the pages of a book! In that moment, I felt Imagination Library was allowing me to pass along the tradition and memories books provided for me growing up. Elysia, now 8 months, received her first book in January. Corduroy’s Shapes by Viking Children’s books. Adalynn is able to sit and show her little sister all the shapes while we read through it together and she recognizes and tells me the letters that make up all the words I’m reading to them. Imagination Library is allowing me to empower my own children with the knowledge of reading and really loving and enjoying books, which allows me, now as an adult, to feel they are being set up for success for their future. The opportunity for families to receive monthly books through Imagination Library is really amazing, and the number of doors that open up for our children’s futures with books is countless!

Runner Up: The Potter Family

This is my son, Pax  (14 months in the photo), and his daddy, Troy, reading his favorite book, Goodnight Gorilla.Troy had traveled all day to Eugene from Pennsylvania, where he had been to attend his first son’s college graduation – he made it home just in time for Pax’s bedtime routine, which includes reading at least a handful of books, many of which are from the Imagination Library program. Pax has been a recipient since his birth in September 2016.

Pax requests Goodnight Gorilla every night, without fail.
Goodnight Gorilla is a special book. With very few words, it could be easily dismissed, but it is through this book that I have seen Pax’s mind grow! At first, I was surprised when Pax became enthralled with the funny story I had made up about the animals cozying up in Zookeeper Joe’s bedroom, but night after night, he kept requesting it.

The first thing I noticed after several nights of it being The Book of Choice – he got up to go retrieve his stuffed elephant! This was the first sign that Pax was starting to understand words and connect them with objects! A few nights later, he went to retrieve his stuffed lion! Later, he connected the image of the flashlight with the one we keep under our bed! Then saying ‘night night’ happened! And the page with the eyeballs lead to the discover of pointing to his and our eyes! Recently, Pax learned about bikes when we got him a helmet – that night, he pointed to the bike in Gorilla’s cage, which I had never even noticed before. Another day, he got a balloon from a grocery store – again, the same night, he pointed out the pink balloon that is on nearly every page of the book – something I hadn’t noticed before either! The transformation of Pax as seen through this nearly-wordless book has been incredible!

As if Pax’s love for Goodnight Gorilla wasn’t enough to solidify my love for the Imagination Library book program, seeing the absolute joy on his face when he checks the mail with daddy and receives a new book is tear-jerking!

I tell everyone I know about this program – it is an incredible opportunity and we feel lucky to have access to it in Eugene! ​

Sidenote: Goodnight Gorilla is Pax’s first book to require the pages be taped. Swoon! 

Runner Up: The Sandoval Family

As a family of five, we often have busy evenings filled with homework, dinner prep, and all the other necessities of life. One of these evenings in particular, I happened to be particularly busy in the kitchen and hadn’t noticed my three-year old Liliana set up all her stuffed animals around her. I looked up, saw her, grabbed my camera and snapped this lovely picture of Lili joyfully reading one of her favorite books, Home for Bunny, to her friends Zebra and Kitty. The smile grew across my face as I watched her “mimic” reading, turn the pages, and carefully show Zebra and Kitty each picture before she turned to the next. Amazingly, she even tracked her finger along as she “read” the words.
These are the moments that help develop and instill in my daughter (and all the other recipients of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library) a true love of reading. These are the moments that will stay with us as she continues to grow into a skilled reader. As adults, we often look back in our lives to the time when we first became readers or when we read a certain favorite book. This can literally be life-changing. I know, as I see these little moments, Lili will have great early memories of how she became that reader.
I truly believe that being part of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program has shaped my daughter into a reader that will stay with her all her life. The foundation that Dolly Parton is building by simply putting books in the hands of babies, toddlers, and growing minds is magical. When I saw Lili “reading” in her little language partly made up of words from the story and partly just her own imagination, I knew the gift of having this library of books around her was contributing so much.
The books that Lili receives each month have really become a part of our family. Sometimes, as in this case, Lili is reading to her “stuffed” friends, but other times, it is her older ten-year old brother reading to her. Sometimes Daddy and Mama are sitting on the couch reading to Lili. It’s amazing to see the relationships that grow from the simple of act of enjoying a good book.
We are humbly grateful to the Dolly Parton Imagination Program for contributing to these magical moments. Zebra and Kitty are in full agreement!

Runner Up: The Bryant Family

For my baby shower, I asked for books instead of cards to create a small library for my child. A friend of mine put a flyer to the Imagination Library in the book that she gifted to me. I immediately signed up online as soon as our daughter was born. We started receiving a new book every month that was of great quality, age specific, and that we loved to read to her. It’s not a book we picked out and bought for her, so the book is a surprise for us too and I think she can sense that when we read them to her.

Now that she’s almost 4, she knows what “book day” is, the day the Imagination Library book magically appears in our mail box and she’s always so ecstatic for book day! She knows that she gets to hear a new story before bedtime, and I know I’m going to read that book every night to her before bed until she memorizes it, so that she cane “read it to me”. She loves to read to herself by flashlight, and we catch her in her room often still awake past bedtime trying to remember what words went with a certain page. I also believe that the memorization is helping her to become an early reader, and for this, I’m so thankful for the Imagination Library books!

I think we have close to 40 Imagination Library books. Some of which we’ve donated to the free little libraries around our town in order to keep spreading the joy, some we’ve kept because she still really enjoys them, a couple even went in my hope chest, as they were her favorite ones and I want to keep them for the day she has a child. These books are not just a treat for her; they’re a treat for the whole family. We love to read to her and she loves to be read to. I love that these books come at a price that anyone can afford (FREE!) is absolutely a blessing. We’re proud that our child is so into reading, but I believe the excitement of receiving a book in the mail that’s addressed to her makes it even more special. She never knows what adventure is going to be behind the pages of her new book, and I never know what new voice I’m going to have to come up with in order to put some personality into my reading.

Thank you Imagination Library for helping to add to our nightly educational, fun, free, family ritual in our home. I can only hope that more families feel the way I do, as family time is so important and when it’s fun and educational everyone benefits! And when it’s free and delivered straight to your home, it makes it easy to do.

2017 Winners


Winner: Lily, the Little Blue Engine

This is Lily, my two-year-old daughter, reading The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, her first Imagination Library book. Here she sits with the book, flipping through the colorful pages, and retelling the story, which is a mashup of what she remembers from being read to and what she creates based on the pictures.

She reminds me of the Little Blue Engine when I see her reading. She is small, she has never been over the mountain of proficient literacy, and by most standards she is unqualified to read a book because she doesn’t even recognize her alphabet yet. But that does not stop her. She thinks she can read, and so approaches books with self-confidence, curiosity, and most of all, joy.

She is on the railway to literacy and a new book each month moves her farther up that mountain. Thank you, Dolly Parton and the Imagination Library for believing in my daughter and for supporting families like ours who value early literacy.




Runner Up: The Kempe Family

We’ve been recipients of books from the Imagination Library since the beginning when it was first offered in Eugene. We love the program and our oldest son has really enjoyed reading all of the books. We read them together all the time and often times, he ends up choosing one of the Imagination Library books for his bedtime story. He has learned his letters this way (ABCers was a great book for this), memorized several of the stories (some of them before he was even two!) and is developing a strong love for reading. This program is amazing.

Even though we love reading ourselves and promote reading in our house, there’s not always money to purchase books; the fact that each child gets their own special book each month is such an incredible blessing. We are lucky to live in a community that supports a program like this. We also really appreciate the book choices: the themes are relevant and inclusive and have consistently featured diverse characters. Diversity is so important in children’s literature and we really appreciate that these books help familiarize children with people of different backgrounds, race, language (bilingual books), etc. Thank you.

Runner Up: Nate the Fireman

This is Nate (or, “Nate The Fireman,” as he dresses in this outfit 90 percent of the time). He is three-and-a-half years old. We have been enjoying books from The Imagination Library since Nate was a baby. We always enjoy the new books and it is fun to have something new to add to our rotation each month. Nate is always excited to get a new book in the mail. Unfortunately, Nate does not know to give credit to the Library. 😉 He thinks that since the mailman delivers the books, they must be from him. And so, over time, they have developed a very sweet relationship. Nate is quite shy and hardly says hi to anyone but he loves our mailman. On the mornings we are home together, Nate runs to say hi to our mailman when he hears the mail truck. Last week when this book came, we missed the mailman but I caught a couple of photos of Nate excitedly getting the mail with our monthly gift from The Imagination Library project. Thank you so much for the generous gift of a new book each month. We have really enjoyed the books! And we have really enjoyed getting to know our mailman.

Runner Up: Brenner

Oh, the Imagination Library! A monthly book, in the mail, addressed to my two-year-old son, Brenner.

Thanks to the Eugene Public Library Foundation and legendary performer, Dolly Parton, my son gets the gift of a new adventure every month. This is truly an amazing program, especially in a time where children are exposed to advanced technology everywhere–a book still reaches you how a screen cannot. Reading a book gives you the ability to create the ideas and descriptions in your head–in your imagination.

Dolly Parton came to Eugene in 1972, and that night she was here, feeling ill and tired, she still performed for our community. She was so touched by the love and support from the crowd that night that she wrote a song entitled, “Eugene, Oregon.” Among the lyrics is “Oh, Eugene, Oregon, I have been trying to find a way to say thanks again.” Forty-five years later, a two-year-old sits in his room, holding the monthly thank you card from Dolly and the Eugene Public Library!

Eugene Public Library Foundation, 100 West 10th Ave., Suite 317, Eugene, Oregon 97401 | (541) 338-7018
The EPLF is a registered 501 (c)(3) – EIN: 93-0873279. Gifts to the Foundation are fully tax deductible as allowed by law.