Nottingham City Council has been praised for its efforts to improve reading skills in pre-school children through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

A visit by members of Denmark’s Ministry of Finance today (6 October) looked at the important early intervention work being carried out to improve outcomes for children and families in Nottingham.

Organised by Denmark Deloitte, the delegation said Nottingham’s plan to roll-out Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was an ambitious and inventive way of improving vital reading skills in children – as well as providing dedicated time for parents to spend with their children. The delegation pledged financial support for the Imagination Library, which aims to provide a free book every month to every child in the city from birth until the age of five.

The visitors were also able to see first-hand the services being offered through the city’s networks of Children’s Centres.

Activities on offer include city-wide Stay, Play and Learn sessions which help support children’s overall development including physical development, personal, social and emotional skills and communication and language abilities. Wiggle and Giggle sessions are also available at city libraries.

Partnership work in early intervention was also highlighted to the delegation by joint work with Nottingham CityCare Partnership, such as Small Steps Big Changes, health visitors and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Small Steps Big Change is working across the partnership to begin the delivery of ‘enhanced book gifting’. The idea is to help young children to explore books together as a group activity. To deliver this SSBC will work alongside libraries, children’s centres, childcare settings and play groups to develop group activities based on the books.

Cllr David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “Nottingham has a long history of pioneering early intervention programmes to help give our children the best possible start in life. I’m pleased that this work is being recognised internationally and it was useful to be able to share our experiences with the delegation from Denmark.

“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an amazing charity which helps to inspire children to love books. We know reading changes lives. It broadens horizons and opens up a whole world of opportunities. We want to encourage more parents to explore books at home with their children. We know this will help them to start school with a much greater confidence.

“Our ambition is to extend the Imagination Library so that every Nottingham child from 0-5 years old can get a free book delivered to their home each month. Together we can ignite a lifelong passion for reading and give our children the very best start in life.”

Nottingham’s commitment to the strategic importance of reading was backed by a motion at a City Council Full Council meeting in May, which recognised that Nottingham children are likely to start school with reading skills up to 14% behind the national average. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been proven to tackle this problem effectively and support children to improve early reading skills.

More information and donations to the Imagination Library in Nottingham can be made at