We thought about prefacing this news with something about how it’s nice to have a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak week, but frankly, Dolly Parton having donated 100 million books over the last 23 years would stand out as great news even in a brighter timeline.
As Billboard reports, the country music queen marked the occasion with a visit to the Library Of Congress, where she shared what inspired her to start the Imagination Library, which sends selected works to children in the program from the day they’re born until their fifth birthday. The organization began in Sevier County, where Parton grew up, but quickly expanded across the state and is now available in 1,500 communities throughout the U.S. Canada, and the U.K. Parton says she wants to guarantee that children have early and easy access to reading material, regardless of income. The musical icon was moved by her own father’s lack of books when he was a kid, and sees the Imagination Library as a way to honor him.
Parton’s a longtime philanthropist, having established The Dollywood Foundation, which originally offered scholarships to local high school students, in 1986. The Imagination Library became its focus in 1995, but after the 2016 Tennessee wildfires, the charitable organization was renamed the My People Fund, which provided $1,000 a month to families affected by the wildfires that ravaged much of Parton’s home state.