Dolly Parton is truly an icon for all the things she has accomplished in her life. From her songs to her movies to her humanitarianism, she is a name that you instantly recognize. She has always been someone that I have looked up to. I even played a character named “Dolly Holiday” in a Christmas musical when I was younger, who was pretty obviously based on the legend herself. But aside from all this, the most iconic thing Dolly has done, in my eyes, was starting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
One of my biggest passions in life is the importance of literacy in early childhood education. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, being exposed to books from a young age increases vocabulary, memory, and creates opportunities for listening skills to develop, among many other things. As an elementary education major, and someone who has taught preschool for years, I am always looking for new things to include in my classroom. One of the best things I have done is sign up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was started in 1995 and was inspired by Dolly Parton’s father, who was unable to read or write. It was originally just meant for people who lived in the county Dolly grew up, Sevier County in her home state of Tennessee. After becoming a huge success, it became a national program. Now they mail books every month, for free, to multiple countries all around the world, including Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, and of course, the United States.
It is a pretty easy process to sign up. All you need to do is provide your mailing information and your child’s name and birthday. Every month, from birth to five years, your child will get a book mailed directly to them. These books contain diverse characters, families, and settings. Books in the past have been Luke Goes to Bat by Rachel Isadora, Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pen᷉a, and I am a Rainbow by Dolly Parton herself. The books span across genres, from fantasy books about dragons to a contemporary story about a little girl who is getting a new baby sister.
Over the past 25 years, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has sent out over 100 million books. To become more inclusive to all children, they have included audio and braille books. They have even created stage shows of some of the stories that are mailed out through the program and perform them at Dollywood in Dolly’s Imagination Playhouse.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is just one of the many great things Dolly Parton has done. But in my opinion, it is the best.