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Dolly Parton’s signature charity, the Imagination Library, has reached an incredible milestone. On February 27, 2018, the nonprofit donated its 100 millionth book! To mark the occasion, Dolly appeared at the Library of Congress to chat with Director Carla Hayden and hand deliver a special edition of her children’s book, Coat of Many Colors. Dolly also performed a live reading of the book for a group of preschoolers from the area, with a little bit of singing thrown in for good measure.
Here at Visit My Smokies, we couldn’t be more proud of our hometown hero! Dolly is, of course, a Smoky Mountain native, and the Imagination Library is headquartered near the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Dolly Parton Announces Partnership with the Library of Congress
Dolly’s appearance at the Library of Congress brought even more exciting news! Parton and Hayden announced that the Library of Congress is partnering with the Imagination Library to produce a monthly story time for young readers.
On the last Friday of each month at 10:30 a.m., the Library of Congress will host a special story time in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building. These events will be live streamed on the Library of Congress’ Facebook page and YouTube channel, so children and parents from all around the country can tune in. Noted authors and illustrators will read books from the Imagination Library, which are aimed at children aged 5 and younger. The story times will begin in March and run through August.
Reflecting on her historic number of donations and partnership with the Library of Congress, Dolly said, “I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories. I am so honored that our little program has now grown to such a point that we can partner with the Library of Congress to bring even more stories to children across the country.”
History of the Imagination Library
Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library in 1995 to help promote literacy and a love of reading in children. The non-profit mails free, high-quality books to enrolled children from the time they are born until they start school. When it began, the Imagination Library only served kids in Sevier County, TN, where Parton was raised. However, the program was so successful that in 2000, the Imagination Library was opened up to communities across the nation.
Today, the Imagination Library gives free books to 1.1 million children each month in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. It’s not hard to see why kids around the globe have started calling Dolly the “book lady!”
Inspiration for the Imagination Library
The inspiration for the Imagination Library came from Dolly’s father, Robert Lee Parton Sr., who was always troubled by the fact that he was illiterate. At the Library of Congress, Dolly explained her father’s legacy to Director Hayden:
“My dad never had the chance to go to school. And Daddy couldn’t read or write. But he was the smartest person that I’ve ever known. And so, I wanted to do something special for him…You know in the Bible, where it talks about honoring your father and your mother? I don’t think that necessarily means just to obey them. I think it means to bring honor to their name if you can. So, I got my daddy involved with this little program. I wanted him to feel like he was part of something special.”
The Imagination Library is indeed very special, and we’re looking forward to even more milestones in its future. As Dolly quipped at the event, she may return to the Library of Congress for the billionth book donated!
Looking to catch up on all the latest Dolly Parton news? Check out Dolly’s birthday blog to see what the country superstar has been up to over the past year!