To all of us fans, she’s Dolly Parton. To little people, she’s “the Book Lady.” Today the singer/songwriter started a 10-week online series in which she reads a children’s book at bedtime, selecting books from her Imagination Library. You and your child can watch the “Goodnight with Dolly” readings streamed on YouTube on Thursdays at 7 p.m. EST. As the mother of a toddler, I am ever thankful that I can add Dolly to my presently scant list of family diversions during this challenging time.
Dolly’s Imagination Library book gifting project was started in 1995 to serve children in her home county in East Tennessee. The program now spans four countries and sends over one million free books each month to children registered for the program.
Imagination Library was inspired by her father who never had a chance to go to school, like most rural folk back then, because he had to provide for a family. Her father could not read or write, and was often embarrassed about it. Watching someone she loved so much grapple with such difficulties as not being able to complete forms or read to his children steered her toward the Imagination Library. And through the program, Dolly nurtures a love of reading in young children.
“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
Dolly has also donated $1M to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for research on a coronavirus cure. “My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” her Instagram states.
Here is Dolly Parton reading the first book in the “Goodnight with Dolly” series, The Little Engine That Could, which premiered this evening: