You may know Dolly Parton as a record-breaking country musician (and sequin enthusiast). At age 73, she’s still looking amazing and iconic as ever, still making news with her recent appearance in YA adaptation ‘Dumplin’’ on Netflix.
What you may not know is that she’s been a philanthropist for many decades. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) is a charity providing free books to children in order to encourage intellectual development and a lifelong love of reading. Dolly Parton started the organisation in 1995, inspired by her own Father’s inability to read and write.
A letter from Dolly Parton herself describes the heartfelt reasons behind her charity’s founding:
“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my Daddy. He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.
“Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission. In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children.
“It’s been quite a journey but we have so much more left to do. I would love for your community to join our family so please take the time to explore our website. Let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books.”
DPIL has granted over two decades worth of books to deserving children despite family income. The program mails free, “high-quality” books to children from the second they leave the uterus to the moment they step foot in their first classroom.
While the program was originally only available in Sevier County, TN—where our beloved Dolly Parton is from—the charity achieved national recognition. By 2003, the program had given children approximately one million books. The program is now international, operating in Canada, the UK, and Australia. As of today, Dolly’s vivid imagination has brought the Imagination Library to Ireland.
Seeds Of Dreams
Announcing the project, the iconic singer called on parents in Dublin 24 to take advantage of the opportunity to get their children reading.
“You can never get enough books into the hands of young children,” Parton said.
“I know there are children in Ireland with their own dreams – the dream of becoming a doctor, an inventor, or a teacher. Who knows, maybe a writer, or singer. The seeds of these dreams can often be found in books and the seeds planted in a community can grow across the world.”
The Tallaght-based prevention and early intervention organisation CDI is responsible for enrolling children and An Post have committed to free postage of the books in Dublin 24 for a year. CDI chief executive Marian Quinn encouraged parents to register their child on the website.
“I am really delighted that the Imagination Library is coming to Ireland. We aim to reach 3,200 children with 21,600 books in Dublin 24 in the first year alone. Our aim is to then scale up to other parts of the country,” she said.
CDI is covering the operational costs involved and if the project is successful it will seek to engage further partners and funders and expand it beyond Dublin 24.
The charity also coordinates other programmes to improve family literacy and children’s outcomes, and it said it would integrate the book gifting scheme with these. A working group comprised of library staff, public health nurses and health and education services have been established to promote the initiative.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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