Dolly Parton talks Imagination Library in return to Arkansas

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is in every county in Arkansas, mailing out roughly 2 million books each month to help boost child literacy around the nation.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — From every corner of the state, Arkansans flooded the ballroom of the governor’s mansion to see the legend and recent Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dolly Parton speak.

Alongside those Arkansans in attendance, were volunteers who have committed themselves to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which aims at increasing child literacy. 

Dolly was introduced by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, with the crowd greeting her with standing ovation. After presenting her with a certificate, Hutchinson declared it Dolly Parton Imagination Library Day throughout Arkansas. 

The governor himself even received a cool gift– a framed copy of a children’s book that Dolly loves to sing from. 

Following Dolly’s emphatic introduction, Dolly began her interview with our very own Craig O’Neill, providing the crowd with a refresher course on how the Imagination Library works.

“What we do is we give books to children from the time they’re born until they start school. We put their little names on it and put the books in the mailbox. They’re excited about that,” Parton said. “They usually grab somebody in the family to read with them but it is my belief that if you can read, that you can self educate yourself.” 

Parton even shared the inspiration behind the Imagination Library, mentioning her father as a key factor. 

“The reason I started this whole program was because of my Daddy. We grew up in a rural area, we were mountain people, poor people, and my dad didn’t get a chance to go to school. Daddy couldn’t read or write but he was such a smart man,” she said.

Craig and Dolly even touched on motivation behind her visit to Arkansas. Well, it was to celebrate the volunteers at the libraries and the fact that there’s an Imagination Library in every single county in Arkansas.

“I think that’s wonderful. We were so excited coming here knowing that. We’re just hoping to do that all over the country before we’re finished, but we’re doing so well,” Parton said. “We actually have already given out 185 million books and we’re hoping by the first of this next year we’ll be up to 200 million. We mail out 2 million books a month and we’re just so proud of that because of people like you [audience]. We’re grateful.” 

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