Our Story

Research from around the world shows that early literacy maps directly to a child's cognitive development, academic success and even their life expectancy. Improving literacy doesn't have to be complex. The first step is getting books into children's hands. All children. That's why we've affiliated with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to help the children of Berkeley build excellent personal libraries before Kindergarten.

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My husband and I are librarians. We bring home lots of books.
But there’s something very special for my child to have a book arrive in the mail for her! And the books have been spot on! I appreciate the thought and effort that’s gone in to the choices.”

”I particularly appreciate the bilingual books: they are an ‘IN’ for me and my daughter to share Spanish. I also appreciate the books with female protagonists and characters of color. I like when my daughter can see herself in a character, and when she feels inspired/empowered to be a leader!”

”We are a mixed race bilingual-Spanish family -
Latino, African American, and Native American.
I love how many books feature brown faces that look like we do.
Thank you! Such a great gift to get these every month!

”I love the program and the books - every time they come it’s an exciting moment it makes my children want to hurry and read the new book. Thank You!”

“It’s free” is never the best reason to register your child. “It’s an excellent collection” and “your child will love it!” are far better ones.

If you worry about using a free service when you already buy the books you want, worry not! Take action: make a donation! A subscription to Highlights or Passports costs more than the Imagination Library: just $25 covers books one year’s books for a child. And, you cannot purchase the excellent literature research and choices the IL Selection Committee undertakes annually. You, as well as your child, will be introduced to excellent mind- and heart-opening titles you would not likely have encountered on your own.


Our Programs

Monthly Book Subscription

Imagination Library

Starting as early as birth, children receive one carefully selected book every month, no strings attached. Available to any child under age 5 living in Berkeley, CA.



Here's a quote from our August 2018 Survey I love because it shows parents recognize the quality of books selected for Imagination Library. Many parents commented on the quality of the IL Collection.

"We look forward to each new book. When we find a book that my son really likes, we find other books by the author. Please keep this program running.  Many Thanks!"


Demographically Targeted Book Giving

* "Welcome Baby" book bags: For two small programs serving  expectant mothers we supply tote bags containing books for infants and a copy of I Love You Like Sunshine for parents.


 HATCH Community Doulas in Oakland serve very young women emerging from difficult circumstances. Berkeley's Black Infant Health program serves expectant mothers in Berkeley and surrounding communities. Both these programs include the importance of nurturing literacy from the start; we supply their clients  the tools to do so, from the start. 

*Demographically Targeted Books for Events: We purchase books that feature children/families of color and/or are bilingual-Spanish for our Baby Book Club table and for events at partner programs Healthy Black Families and Black Infant Health. Our intention is to make books available to children who are woefully under represented in the children's book publishing world: over 70% of new children's books feature only or nearly only white children/families (when characters are human).

It is a powerful thing for a very young child to see themselves reflected on the pages of a book in their hands.     We want this experience to be part of every child's life, repeatedly and from the start.  


Family Engagement

Baby Book Club

Meet and play with other book-loving children from Berkeley. Enjoy a wide variety of hands-on activities, story reading, and snacks.

 2018 Survey Results

We've received 95 surveys so far - over half with comments!  

Many parents at both ends of the income spectrum agree: they read more with their children since book deliveries began. 

all children benefit from excellent books in the home. Children love getting mail, regardless of their parent's income - the excitement delivered with each book is impossible to buy in a store. We want that excitement about books to be available to all our community's children. 


Here are some comments: 

"We love getting surprise books in the mail - plus it's been a great selection - we love the books we've received. We would not have heard of these books otherwise."


"My 4 year old loves the idea of mail so it's awesome books come in the mail for him! He has a little sister now. He is excited about her getting her own books! Also he likes taking car trips, and loves hauling different books every time we go on a car ride!       I do Not make much money at all, I love the fact that my kids can keep the books!"


“We are librarians. We bring lots of books home every day for our children. But there's something very special for my daughter to have a book arrive in the mail for her! and, The books have been spot on.                  I appreciate the thought and effort that's gone in to the choices.”


"Please expand this program! All children deserve the chance to get excited about reading."        

(We agree! and look forward to expanding when we're able!)

If you are among the nearly 50% of our IL Program with income over $100,000, please consider supporting us. Just $50 a year covers book AND mailing costs for two children.

Pledge $100 -$1,000 annually for 3-5 years and get a "Thank You" Berkeley Baby Book Project tote bag!


Our Impact

Early literacy is empowering. It's tempting to try and sign up as many children as we can, as quickly as possible. But we plan to help Berkeley's children amass great personal libraries for generations to come. In order to do that, we have to start small, and expand with success. The community response has been outstandingly positive, and we're excited for the road ahead.

Here's what we've accomplished so far, in numbers:



Personal Libraries Created

Since the creation of The BBBP, over 100 children have aged out of the Imagination Library program.




Currently receiving monthly books

Our numbers are growing steadily by word of mouth, and our goal is to serve the entire community.




Books Delivered

Since we began in  2015,  our Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program had delivered thousands of books.


Get Involved

There are plenty of ways to help get books in the hands of Berkeley's children. If you're a parent, register your child for Imagination Library or join us for a Baby Book Club. If you've got skills you're willing to lend, volunteer with us. If you'd like to support our mission, make a donation or see how else you can help us grow.


register your child for Imagination Library

One hand-selected book, delivered to any child age 0–4 living in Berkeley. All you have to do is sign up. We take care of the rest.

Sign up for the baby book club

Meet and engage with other book-loving parents and children from Berkeley. Enjoy complementary refreshments and hands-on activities led by our team of volunteers.


Help us improve The BBBP by providing much-needed assistance with book mailing, Baby Book Club activities, event photography and more.