March is Women’s History Month. It’s also National Reading Month.
So, what better time to check in with a woman who is making history as a literary advocate, Dolly Parton?
“I beg your ‘Parton?’” you might be thinking. “Dolly Parton, the entertainer?”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted over 200 million books.Yes, the singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman, philanthropist
and author (she co-wrote her first novel “Run, Rose, Run” with James Patterson last year) is the founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, described as “the world’s preeminent early childhood book-gifting program.”
The program that began in 1995 with the distribution of books in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was raised, today distributes more than 2 million books per month everywhere from the United States to Canada to the United Kingdom to Australia to the Republic of Ireland. The organization expected to gift its 200 millionth book last month.
“I didn’t really start a literacy foundation but rather wanted to get something going for the children in my home county,” Parton explains in press materials. “Over the years, we learned a lot about what works. But the one thing I knew for sure is that to have even a remote chance for success, you have to know how to read and write. And the best way to learn is to love books and love reading.
“My Daddy could not read or write, so I grew up with seeing how limiting it can be. I often say he was the smartest man I have ever known, but I always wonder what else he could have done if he knew how to read. The Imagination Library will always be my tribute to him.”
The Imagination Library, in partnership with local community affiliates, mails “high-quality, age- appropriate” books to children from birth to age 5 at no cost to families, thanks to support from individuals, foundations and corporate partners.
Since 2017, Arkansas Imagination Library and its partners have grown the program to all 75 counties in the state. As of press time, about 77,000 Arkansas children were enrolled — a number that continues to grow each month.
Let’s grow it even more! If you have a child younger than 5, enroll to receive a free monthly book by visiting Imagination Library Link.
For added reading material, we’ll continue sending Arkansas Living every month too!