In 1995, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly's vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.
In 2000 Ms. Parton's Imagination Library expanded its scope to any and all communities willing to help support the program. The program started because of Parton's father:
It really really started out as a very personal thing for me and it was originally just meant for the folks in my home county because of my dad. There were not [sic] books in our house growing up and my dad could not read nor write and it was a very crippling thing for him. My dad was such a brilliant man.
Children who sign up get 60 free books—one for every month of their life up until the age of five.
The older I get the more appreciative I seem to be of the 'book lady' title. It makes me feel more like a legitimate person, not just a singer or an entertainer. But it makes me feel like I've done something good with my life and with my success.
Long live Dolly Parton. Watch PBS Newshour's piece on the Imagination Library below the fold.