As a Dollywood Insider, I get a special peek at the generosity of Dolly Parton and the Dollywood companies. She’s the backbone behind a number of charitable programs including the My People Fund, which has raised over 9 million dollars to help the people and businesses impacted by the Sevier County fires, among other programs.
One of the accomplishments Dolly is most proud of is her Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, and started in 1995 providing books to children in communities in Tennessee in an effort to aid literacy. Today, the program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.
She recently donated her book Coat of Many Colors as the one hundred millionth book at Library of Congress! Learn more about the Imagination Library HERE.
From its infancy in Sevier County, Tennessee, to the largest children’s literacy program in the world, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has introduced millions of children around the globe to the fun of reading. Yesterday, Parton herself enshrined the 100-millionth book distributed in the program’s existence into the Library of Congress.
In addition to the extraordinary moment for Parton, the Imagination Library and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced a monthly reading program for young readers at the Library of Congress. “I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories,” Parton said. “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.”
From March to August, the library will host story time in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building the last Friday of each month. Each story time will feature the reading of a book for readers up to age 5, music and special guests. The programs also will be live streamed so children and parents anywhere with an internet connection can join the fun. The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, has more than 160 million items cataloged.
Fittingly, the 100-millionth book from the Imagination Library is Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors. Written by Parton, the book is an adaptation of her iconic song of the same name. Both the book and the song encourage children—and adults—to look past superficial appearances to the true heart of an individual. Much like the amazing legacy of her Imagination Library, Parton used her humble childhood upbringing as motivation for a career of accomplishments that are without equal.
The Imagination Library, which now distributes 1 million books every month, mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
“Dolly Parton’s work through her Imagination Library is awe-inspiring,” Hayden said. “They have counted the number of books given away – 100 million, but there is no way to truly quantify the impact this program has had on developing young readers across America and in other parts of the world. This is an extraordinary gift to humankind. The Library of Congress shares this passion for developing young readers and I am so pleased to announce these cooperative programs, which will provide an opportunity for children anywhere to connect with a fun, engaging reading experience.”
The story times will take place the last Friday of each month for six months in March through August at 10:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street SE. The events are free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Programs will also be live streamed on the Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/libraryofcongress and its YouTube site (with captions) at youtube.com/LibraryOfCongress.