Over the decades pop and country living legend Dolly Parton has worn many hats and won many hearts. She has over the years created herself as a singer, songwriter, entertainer, and philanthropist. However, in recent years, Parton has earned a new title given to her by the various children she interacts with. “The Book Lady” is the title she is perhaps most proud of.
The 72-year-old entertainer has offered herself to her various philanthropic institutions throughout the length of her legendary career. She has molded herself into an icon with the ability of not only entertaining but also being at the forefront of giving.
One example of Parton’s willingness to give is through her Imagination Library founded back in 1995. The library’s initial goal was to provide children in her hometown with free books. The library has grown in the presiding 23 years into a global book-giving program. The library has recently also celebrated a major milestone.
The late Robert Lee Parton Sr. was responsible for inspiring his daughter to start the library. He died in 2000.
Even though he never learned to read or write, Parton still tributes her late dad as being the smartest man she knew.
Talking in front of a Washington, D.C. gathering at the Library of Congress, the singer/songwriter joked about her “book lady” name and “Mother Goose” nature. “I never thought about being ‘the book lady,’” she chuckled, as the kids’eyes and ears watched her with admiration.
“The painted lady, yes, the over exaggerated lady,” she teased, as the gathering erupted in laughter. “That goes to show you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.”
The library has up until now donated 100 million books to kids across the world. The entertainer was thrilled about achieving that extraordinary milestone. She, therefore, decided on February 27, to donate the 100 millionth book to the Library of Congress. She gave out a children’s book titled, “Coat of Many Colors.”
Today we dedicate the 100 Millionth @DollysLibrary Book to the @librarycongress! I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories. #100MillionBooks https://t.co/KxUJp0nP20 pic.twitter.com/LVhYeTCVGp
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) February 27, 2018
Parton read the book to a group of children and even sang a little entrancing the little ones as they all stared up at her. She also met up and her a brief chat with the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
The Librarian explained, “Dolly Parton’s work through her Imagination Library is awe-inspiring.”
“They have counted the number of books given away – 100 million – but there is no way to truly quantify the impact this program has had on developing young readers across America and in other parts of the world,” Carla added.
“If you can read, you can educate yourself,” Parton told Forbes in 2016 proving her longstanding advocacy for the importance of reading.
“Even if you’re not able to afford to go to college, if you can read, you can find out about any subject that you’re interested in.”
During the interview, the philanthropist emphasized the importance of providing every child with access to reading materials and still thinks the library has a lot more to give.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 1, 2018
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life — and it’s been a lot because I’ve been around — this is the most precious,” she added. “Maybe we’ll be back for a billion.”
Her book-giving legacy may just be her most enduring input to the world.