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Dolly Parton is known for giving back to her local community, as well as the global community. She has launched several different kinds of charities, but one that is probably the dearest to her heart is the Imagination Library. This was one of the first charities Dolly started, and it has grown exponentially over the years. Keep reading to learn all about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:
Inspiration for the Imagination Library
If you know anything about Dolly Parton, it may be that her family was poor. Her father, Robert Lee Parton, was part of a farming family. In most of these agricultural families, the children would drop out of school to help with the family’s farm, and Robert Lee was no exception. He never learned to read or write, and Dolly has expressed how her father’s illiteracy weighed on him throughout his life.
Robert Lee’s inability to read and write inspired Dolly to start an initiative to help children in her hometown learn how to read and write. Her father is credited as her inspiration to start the program. She wanted children to find a love of reading that could give them an educational foundation for what they wanted to do later in life. In many interviews, Dolly has said that her father was the most proud of her for the Imagination Library and how he loved that children referred to his daughter as “the book lady.”
History of the Charity
In 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library launched by sending free, high quality books to children who were 0 to 5 years old in Sevier County, Tennessee. The program became such a success that it went national in 2000, the same year Dolly’s father passed away.
In 2002, United Ways Organization helped the charity reach children in Native American communities in the United States. The program became available to children in Canada in 2006, then the United Kingdom in 2007, and Australia in 2013.
Today, the charity sends free books to children who are under 5 years old all around the world. Over 1 million books are sent out every month. Dolly has put together several charity events to raise money for Imagination Library, including a concert, a limited-run ice cream flavor, and a specialty license plate in Tennessee.
As of now, over 159 million books have been given to children since the launch of Imagination Library.
Goodnight With Dolly
“Goodnight With Dolly” is a video series Dolly started during 2020. She expressed that she had wanted to start this initiative for quite some time, and since people were at home with their children, she believed there was no better time to start. “Goodnight With Dolly” features Dolly in her pajamas reading popular children’s stories. The books she reads are sent out as part of the Imagination Library, and the video series was created on behalf of the program. Families can come back again and again to listen to Dolly read their favorite bedtime stories.
The Library That Dolly Built
On the 25th anniversary of the Imagination Library, a documentary called “The Library That Dolly Built” was released. This film shows a behind-the-scenes look at Imagination Library, as well as featuring how this charity has impacted authors, staff, and recipients. The documentary also shows Dolly’s backstory and no matter how much success she has, she will always give back to her community.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has changed lives and fostered a love of reading in children. If you have a child that is 0 to 5 years old, you can sign them up to receive free books from the Imagination Library.
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