Books from Birth Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to receive free books?
This program is open to all children who live within the District of Columbia. Children must be under the age of 5 to qualify for free books. Any child older than 4 years and 10 months of age at the time of registration is not eligible for the program.
How can I register my child to receive free books?
To register your child for free books, visit the Books from Birth homepage and fill out the form.
If you prefer not to register online or need assistance with registration, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: We will never use this information to contact you about anything unrelated to DC Public Library's early literacy programming.
When you complete the registration you will receive a message from our vendor Imagination Library to check the email address that you provided. They will send your account information to that email. Once your child's registration application has been reviewed, you will be notified via email if the application has been approved or denied (along with a reason for denial). If your child's registration has been approved, please allow 6 to 9 weeks to begin receiving books.
Can I register my niece, nephew, grandchild, etc., even though I am not their parent or guardian?
No. You must be the child’s parent or legal guardian to register them for this program.
How will my child receive their books?
All books will be delivered to the address you provided us at registration by the US Postal Service. If the book does not fit in your mailbox or the post office is unable to deliver your book for any other reason, you will be left specific instructions on how to retrieve your books from your local post office. If you believe that you are having issues with your delivery please confirm that you have the correct address listed in your account information and then contact the post office closest to your home. DC Public Library is not responsible for lost or stolen packages and will only distribute books once a month.
What happens if I move?
If you move, please log into your account to change your primary address. Please keep in mind if you do not have an address for your child within the District of Columbia, you will no longer be eligible to receive books. Please allow up to 30 days for changes to your account to be reconciled. Imagination Library is a national program working with communities nationally and internationally to provide children with high-quality reading material. Check their website to see if Imagination Library has an affiliate where you live.
When will my child stop receiving books?
Your child will stop receiving their monthly book once they turn 5 and/or if they move outside the District of Columbia. If you do move, we encourage you to check with our vendor, Imagination Library, to see if there is an affiliate where you will be relocating.
What if I have more than one child who is eligible?
As long as your children are under the age of 5 and live in Washington, D.C., they are eligible for the program. Regardless of the amount of eligible children in your household, every eligible child will receive their own book each month. To register more than one child, simply repeat the registration process by filling out the form again and include the information for the child you have yet to register.
What kinds of books will you be sending?
Children will receive books that are appropriate for their age. Books are selected by professionals who choose books that reflect a diversity of people and cultures, and that promote self-esteem and a love of reading.
Is there a registration deadline?
No. Registration is ongoing. However, please keep in mind that only children under the age of 5 are eligible to receive books. If your child is older than 5 at the time of registration, they will not be eligible for the program.
What can I do if my child is NOT eligible for the program?
If your child is too old or does not live in the District of Columbia, there are still plenty of ways that you can use your local library to help your child become a better and more active reader. Please see some helpful tools and tips for children ages 5-8. We also encourage you to attend our story time events and other fun activities with your child. In addition, check Imagination Library’s website to see if there is an affiliate program where you live.
What if I no longer want my child to receive free books?
If you no longer want to receive books, you can log-in to your account and select to discontinue your book delivery at any time.
What do I do when I’m done with my books?
Many times children will want to read books over and over again before completely moving on from them. Books also find value when passed along to family and friends. If you want to donate your books once you are done with them, please see our preferred donation methods here.
Do you provide books in Spanish?
Yes, Imagination Library provides both English and Spanish-language titles. You can find the yearly book list which indicates which titles are available in Spanish on the Imagination Library website.
Can I sign up for Books from Birth without an email address or phone number?
If you do not have an email address or a phone number, please contact us and we will register you manually.
PLEASE NOTE: The DC Public Library will never use your personal information for anything other than communication about the Books from Birth program or to share early literacy information related to the program. Without valid contact information on record you will not be able to personally manage your account nor will the Library be able to contact you regarding any problems with your book delivery or changes in your eligibility. In addition, many of the benefits of this program will be delivered electronically such as: helpful tips and resources for parents, invitations to free Books from Birth events, and important updates about the program. Keep in mind that you can opt-out of communication from the Books from Birth program at any time.
Are there income restrictions in order to qualify for this program?
All District children who meet the age requirement are eligible to register and receive books.
Can I register my child before they are born?
No, at the time of registration, the birthdate of your child must be today’s date or a date in the past.
Are foster children eligible for the program?
Children under the care of foster parents are eligible for enrollment in the program. If you are a foster parent, once a child is in your care, you can enroll them using your home as the preferred mailing address. At this time the program is not designed for families that are not actively fostering children.
What if a child does not have a permanent mailing address?
Our goal is to reach all children in D.C. If your family moves frequently or does not have a permanent mailing address, we urge you to reach out to a friend or family member who lives in D.C. and would be willing to receive the books for you. Books can only be mailed to a place of residence, NOT a place of business, a non-profit or similar institution.
I can’t see the registration form. What can I do?
Issues may be due to the following…
Browser Error: Try viewing the site in a different web browser or register using your smartphone or mobile device. If this does not work, please email email@example.com and we can register your family on your behalf.
System Maintenance: On the first Tuesday of each month, the registration form will be off-line for a few hours as we update our database systems and ensure the accuracy of our registrant records. At any time, if you are experiencing difficulty registering for the program through the library’s website, you can visit Imagination Library directly and register on their website.
If you feel that the registration form has been unavailable for a significant amount of time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is Books from Birth funded?
As part of the DC Public Library’s Sing, Talk and Read (STAR) early literacy initiative, Books from Birth is funded by the District government. Through STAR, the Library works with government and non-profit partners across the city to better prepare District children aged birth to five years to be ready to learn to read when they enter school. Individuals or organizations interested in supporting Books from Birth and other STAR programs at the Library are welcome to do so by donating to the DC Public Library Foundation.