Read to Me, Stockton!

In the spring of 2011, Ann Johnston, Mayor of Stockton at the time, brought together a group of community agencies to form Read to Me, Stockton!

Joining Mayor Ann Johnston, were representatives from Stockton Unified School District, San Joaquin County Office of Education, University of the Pacific, San Joaquin County United Way, San Joaquin Public Library, Bring Me a Book and the Rotary Club of Stockton, with the goal of bringing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Stockton.  This group has recently expanded to include eleven agencies, the roles of which are described below.

The Imagination Library is offered in cities across our nation, Canada and the United Kingdom. The program’s purpose is to encourage early childhood reading. Since 2009, Rotary International has been working with the Imagination Library to promote early childhood reading. Through the Imagination Library program, a child receives an age-appropriate book each month until age five. Rotary clubs have teamed up with Dolly to bring books to children in more than 300 communities.

No one does a better job in explaining the program than the founder – let Dolly Parton introduce her Imagination Library to you.

Children between the ages of newborn through 5 years are eligible to be in the program. The Read to Me, Stockton! partners are responsible for signing up the children, promoting the program to the community and funding the project. Once a child is enrolled, they receive their own free book every month, delivered to them by the Dollywood Foundation. The Dollywood Foundation chooses the books, based on the age of the children receiving them. You may wish to read a brief fact sheet which describes the program and process in greater detail.

Read to Me, Stockton! began with zip code 95205 in 2011, added 95206 and in 2013 expanded to include 95202 and 95210. The families in these zip codes have the greatest need for literacy education and their children are at the greatest academic risk. The area includes about fourteen schools in Stockton Unified School District (SUSD), Manteca Unified School District and Lodi Unified School District.

We will continue to expand to new zip codes until over 20,000 children, ages 0 to 5, receive a free book every month in the city of Stockton.

Please click here to read our status report which summarizes our progress over the first two years of the project.

What makes the approach of the Read to Me, Stockton! project unique is the partnerships involved.

Our former Mayor Ann Johnston is the administrator of the program. Her genuine concern and knowledge of the value of reading at a very young age and her ability as a leader is vital to our program.

Stockton Unified School District is in charge of registration and reaching out to the community. They conduct meetings and training sessions with parents to encourage and help them to read to their children. SUSD is developing an evaluation program to measure the program’s success.

San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provides administrative and clerical support to the Read to Me, Stockton! Steering Committee and works closely with the Post Office to ensure that books are reaching enrolled children.  In addition, SJCOE supports school districts and community-based organizations in their efforts to promote RTMS registration and parental access to literacy-focused education opportunities.

United Way of San Joaquin County has added the project to their fund raising program through payroll deductions and is a vital partner in planning the project.

San Joaquin Delta College is in charge of data entry and maintaining the database.

University of the Pacific assists in database management and has created a video of children and their parents who are in the RTMS program.

Rotary Club of Stockton is the affiliate that holds the agreement with the Dollywood Foundation for the Read to Me, Stockton! program. Through the Stockton Rotary Endowment, Rotary is responsible for the funding of the program and is the financial contact with the Dollywood Foundation.

San Joaquin Public Library solicits applications at local libraries and participates in parent training and project kickoffs at new school sites.

San Joaquin Public Health Services plays a major role in registering children for the program through its public health nurses, outreach workers and its collaboration with the county’s maternity hospitals and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs.

Family Resource and Referral Center provides meeting space at the Teen Center and promotes RTMS signups with their hundreds of child care providers.

Books for Babes is a volunteer group that gives books to new born babies at local hospitals and registers the new borns for the project.

Rotary International is supportive of the Imagination Library and signed an agreement with the Dollywood Foundation in 2009.

Many clubs have already introduced the Library to their community.

The Rationale – The value of reading to young children is well documented. It has been determined that 90% of brain development occurs before age three. Nothing can replace the experience of a very young child sitting in the lap of a parent or sibling hearing the sounds and seeing the letters, touching the book, thus associating reading with an enjoyable, warm and comfortable experience. Research shows that children exposed to reading in early childhood are more likely to look forward to school, do well early and to go on to college.

Often the business community asks, how can we help improve the education level of our children? Where do we fit, what can we do? Read to Me, Stockton! provides a vehicle for business and other groups to meet a well known need in our city – the low literacy of too many of our children.  Currently only 38% of our city’s third graders can read at grade level – a critical skill for success in school beyond the third grade.

Just think, we will be responsible for young children anticipating the arrival, each month, of their very own book, receiving it and tugging on a parent, saying “please read my book to me”.

Those of us involved in the Read to Me, Stockton! program wish you to read three short articles. Why? Reading these articles will get you excited. The program works!

    • In 2007 Tennessee concluded that the Imagination Library improved school preparedness. Read the article, it is only two pages.
    • In 2003, a much more sophisticated study was accomplished, but the article is forty nine pages. We know only educators are going to read this one. We present you the summary which is less than two pages and is very revealing.
    • A one page summary of a study done in 2010 covering the subject of Books and Schooling in 27 nations found that books in a home is a better indicator of success in school than highly educated parents. Wow, a must read.

You may register a child at birth and before their fifth birthday.  Make sure the child lives in one of the following zip codes – 95202, 95205, 95206 and 95210.

Children may be registered in two ways.  If you wish us to help you register a child you may click here.  Please print out the form and send it to the address at the top.

Or you may register a child yourself online by clicking here.

Should you require help please contact us at 209-472-9662 or email us at


Our donors are individuals, small and large businesses, foundations and government agencies.  Every donation is important to us no matter how small.  We give a big thank you to all of you who have signaled your concern about the ability of our children to read and thus succeed in school and in life.

Read to Me, Stockton! Donors

Over $25,000
Rotary Club of Stockton


$15,001 to $25,000
Kaiser Foundation


$5,001 to $15,000
First 5 San Joaquin Pacific Gas & Electric Company


$1,001 to $5,000
AT&T California Water Service Comcast Financial Agency
Community Foundation of San Joaquin Cortopassi Foundation City of Stockton Mayor’s Book Club
United Way of San Joaquin Beyer/CDEV Delta Students Marchant, S. J.


$501 to $1,000
Alex & Faye Spanos Family Trust F & M Bank KP Kaiser Health Plans
Stockton Delta Rotary Fennell, Elizabeth


$101 to $500
Delk Pest Control Kellar, Debra Mansfield, Muriel
Wright, Dan


Up to $100
ARC San Joaquin

Abdallah, Kris

Ballot, Nancy

Bewley, Marilyn

Brown, Donna

Byers, Kathryn

Calderone, Yvonne

Castillo, Michael

Dobbs, Cynthia


Dusenbury, Tomara

Eastwood, Susijean

Galbraith, Mary

Grego, Mingo

Jabarouti, Panthea

Lowery, Diana

Martin, Alice

Maxwell, Wendi

McGarry, Cara

Morris, James

Munoz, Sarah

Peterson, Karen

Pond, Geniel

Shore, Marilyn

Silva, Debra

Wentworth, Sarah E

Williamson, Marvin

Wilson, Michael


We have an opportunity to help a child learn to love reading for $25 per year. A $25,000 contribution will provide 1000 children a book a month for a year. Our goal is to reach the over 20,000 children in Stockton that are ages 0 to 5.

Will you help us?

If you are a large group, a business, or a professional group, please click here to print out a donation form. You may send the form with your check to “Rotary Club of Stockton, P. O. Box 7457, Stockton, CA 95267”. If you are an individual please click here . When the form is completed you may send it with your check to “Rotary Club of Stockton, P. O. Box 7457, Stockton, CA 95267”. If you wish to contact us directly please call us at 209-472-9662 or email us at

Sponsorship Levels

  • Tale of Peter Rabbit, provides books to 1 child for 1 yr ($25.00 USD)
  • Where the Wild Things Are, provides books to 4 children for 1 yr ($100.00 USD)
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar, provides books to 20 children for 1 yr ($500.00 USD)
  • Harry Potter, provides books to 40 children for 1 yr ($1,000.00 USD)
  • Winnie the Pooh, provides books to 200 children for 1 yr ($5,000.00 USD)

Select A Sponsorship Level