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Pic of the Week: Dolly Parton, the “Book Lady”

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Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (left) and Dolly Parton unveil “Coat of Many Colors,” the book Parton donated to the Library this week. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton visited the Library on Feb. 28 to donate a book: the 100 millionth given away by her organization Imagination Library.

For more than 20 years, Parton and Imagination Library have given books to children around the world. Along the way, she earned the nickname “book lady” from kids who received her books.

Hoping to spark a lifelong love of reading in children, the Imagination Library each month mails a specially selected, age-appropriate book to more than 1 million children in participating communities from birth until they begin kindergarten. The book arrives in the mail addressed not to the parent, but the child.

“To them, it’s personal,” Parton said. “They’re going to take that in the house and make somebody read it to them.”

In conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Parton described her own childhood experiences with books growing up poor in the Great Smoky Mountains and the importance of reading for children.

Afterward, she read “Coat of Many Colors,” a book based on the classic song she composed nearly 50 years ago, to a group of children attending the event.

“We are so pleased to be part of a milestone,” Hayden said upon accepting Parton’s donation. “We are humbled that that book will join with millions of others at the Library of Congress.”

Comments (5)

  1. One of the most powerful and holy activity….the charity which gives birth of an ever lasting effect of wisdom as well as humanity….

  2. Thank you, Dolly!

    I learned to read when my grandmother helped me find a thick paperback murder mystery called Double Indemnity. Then she took me on a driving trip across the United States. I couldn’t stop reading. I had no distractions. I had to look up hundreds of words in the dictionary. That book changed my life.

    I cried when I finished Double Indemnity, read it again and learned that it’s impossible to recapture the excitement and joy of reading a great book for the first time.

    I couldn’t learn to read with boring Dick and Jane books, but when I picked up that thick, heavy, paperback book I was hooked.

    Way to go Dolly! Thank you for donating something that changes the course of a child’s life and lasts forever in our hearts.

  3. To the destitute, the downtrodden, the broken-spirited, Ms Parton is a world example of how your determination and attitude can affect what you can do with your life. Dolly, poor and destitute in her upbringing, could have chosen the “poor me” attitude and not fought her whole life to achieve her dream! Don’t quit, never give up and stop feeling sorry for yourself!

  4. What a wonderful organization “Imagination Library” is. Having learned the magic of books from my Dad who read to me and took me to the library as a child, I have become a life-long reader. Public libraries and a person like Dolly Parton are irreplaceable.

  5. Thanks so much for your comments. We appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences.

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