By Aaron Earls
Country music legend Dolly Parton hosted a kids’ story time at the Library of Congress on Feb. 27 to celebrate her Imagination Library giving away its 100 millionth book.
Today we dedicate the 100 Millionth @DollysLibrary Book to the @librarycongress! I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories. #100MillionBooks https://t.co/KxUJp0nP20 pic.twitter.com/LVhYeTCVGp
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) February 27, 2018
Started in 1995 to help spread literacy to her native Sevier County, Tenn., the free book program has spread to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
“We never thought it would be this big,” she told NPR at the Library of Congress event.
“I just wanted to do something great for my dad and my home county and, at the most, maybe a couple of counties over. But then it just took wings of its own, and I guess it was meant to be.”
Working with local sponsors, the program mails free, age-appropriate books every month to children from birth to 5.
Parton started Imagination Library because her dad, having grown up in poverty and forced to work at an early age, had never learned to read and write.
He was able to see the program start and grow exponentially before his death in 2000.
“He got to hear the kids call me ‘The Book Lady.’ He got a big kick out of that,” she said.
“But he took great pride and felt like he’d helped do something special.”
And Parton says she’s not done doing something special yet.
“We’re going for a billion, maybe, in my life,” she said. “I’m a big dreamer.”
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 1, 2018
AARON EARLS (Aaron.Earls@Lifeway.com) is online editor of Facts & Trends.