Why Early Literacy Matters


why early literacy matters


Why Governor's Early Literacy Foundation & Imagination Library Make a Difference


Discover the unique, public-private partnership that is
Governor's Early Literacy Foundation and Tennessee's Imagination Library.
This overview piece highlights our important statewide partnerships and summarizes 8 major areas of childhood literacy in which Tennessee's Imagination Library is making a difference.

Read the Overview Piece


Explore how the Imagination Library program is making a difference in early childhood literacy in this full-scale meta analysis of 10 years of research (2004-2014) conducted within Tennessee as well as across the USA.

Read the Impact Analysis



Other Early Literacy Studies

The 2017 Seeding Success Shelby County Schools StudySeeding-Success-Logo.png

Seeding Success, a Memphis-based education collaborative, partnered with Shelby County Schools to analyze academic and non-academic variables for approximately 19,000 Kindergarten through Fourth Grade students between the academic years 2013/14 and 2015/16 who were enrolled, for some length, in the Imagination Library. Overall, the analysis suggests that children who are enrolled in the Imagination Library for longer periods of time are more likely to score higher on academic assessments through early grades, more likely to attend school more often and less likely to be suspended. 

​Seeding Success. (2017). Correlation Between Books From Birth Enrollment and Kindergarten through Fourth Grade Academic Outcomes. Unpublished manuscript.

2014-2015 Knox County Study

An Analysis of Early Literacy Assessment Performance Among Knox County Imagination Library Participants: 2014-15 Knox County Kindergarten ClassKnox-Study-logo.png

In this study, early literacy data was collected through Knox County Schools’ formative testing to determine how former Imagination Library participants of the 2014-15 Knox County Kindergarten Class performed relative to non-participants on a nationally normed early literacy assessment (STAR Renaissance).  Research found that Imagination Library Alumni significantly outperformed non-Imagination Library Alumni on all measured skills of the Knox County Schools’ early literacy assessment and were 1.2 times more likely to read on grade level.

Early-Literacy-Urban-Childhood-Graph.pngUrban Child Institute Studies

The Urban Child Institute, in partnership with Memphis City Schools, evaluated Shelby County Books from Birth Program and its effects on kindergarten readiness in 2012, with a followup in 2014. Their analysis indicates that students who participated in the program had higher scores in reading development in second grade, compared to students who had not participated.



Tennessee Board of Regents Studies

In 2007, the Tennessee Board of Regents completed the first large-scale study of the Imagination Library ‘s impact on the learning preparedness of children now enrolled in public schools. Tennessee Kindergarten and Pre-K teachers collectively affirmed that children who had participated in the Imagination Library were “better prepared.”


Early-Literacy-Michael-Warren-Graph-(1).pngThe First 1,000 Days

Dr. Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, frequently lectures on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, examining the protective factors that allow for healthy development. In this presentation, Warren focuses on the importance of positive experiences during a child's preconception, prenatal, and early childhood periods as a source for healthier development and prosperity, emphasizing reading to a child as a positive childhood experience.

The First 1,000 Days, Dr. Michael Warren, Director, Division of Family Health & Wellness Tennessee Department of Health



The 2012 Knox County IL 3rd Grade Follow-Up StudyEarly-Literacy-Knox-Study-Chart-(2).png

During the autumn of 2009, Knox County Schools investigated the relationship between Imagination Library students and their kindergarten peers on the Kindergarten Literacy Assessment. They found that students in the Imagination Library program performed statistically significantly better on the assessment. In this 2012 3rd Grade Follow-up Study, Knox County Schools found that the same Imagination Library alumni continued to perform better than their
non-participating peers on TCAP/Language Proficiency tests.

The 2012 Knox County Imagination Library 3rd Grade Follow Up Study


Untitled-design-(1).jpgHamblen Co. P-16 Council 2010 IL Report

In 2006, Hamblen County developed a student readiness survey that was administered to Hamblen County preschool students and 3 & 4 year old Head Start students. Data collected, along with quotes from parents, preschool teachers, Head Start instructors, and community partners, are presented in this study. The report found that IL participants scored significantly higher on the student readiness survey than non-IL participants.

Hamblen County P-16 Council 2010 Imagination Library Report



The First Eight Years: Annie Casey Foundation Report

Analysis shows that by age 8 most children in the United States are not on track in cognitive knowledge and skills because efforts are not coordinated or linked to positive outcomes. The Annie Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT policy report makes the case for an integrated and comprehensive solution to meet the developmental needs of all children through age 8, including the benefits of reading and literacy at an early age.

The First Eights Years: Annie E. Casey Foundation Report


Kids Count: The State of the Child in Tennessee 2019 1524689020539-(1).png

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) is an independent state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. TCCY is a state KIDS COUNT affiliate, and partial funding is provided through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee 2019 report, released by TCCY, focuses on the current state of children's wellbeing in Tennessee as a whole and by county. TCCY ranked counties based on data organized into four domains, Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family & Community. 

Click here to download the 2019 report.

Click here to view profiles by county.