Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Is Her ‘Proudest’ Accomplishment
Dolly Parton has sold millions of albums, had 25 No. 1 hits, starred in blockbuster movies and created the 150-acre theme park Dollywood in her native East Tennessee. But all of those accomplishments come in a distant second to creating the Imagination Library, which provides free books to children all over the world.
"That’s one of the things I’m proudest of, of anything I’ve ever done," she tells Southern Living magazine. "You can’t educate enough children. A lot of that came from the fact that a lot of my own relatives didn’t get to go to school because we were mountain people. You have to get out and work and help feed the family. My own dad couldn’t read and write. And my dad was very proud of me. He got to live long enough to see the Imagination Library do well, so he felt like he had done something good too -- that he was the inspiration for it."
The 68-year-old never had children of her own but is a maternal influence on many, including her own nieces and nephews, and is a godmother to Miley Cyrus.
"I think probably I make a better godmother and an aunt than I would a mother because I was always so involved in my own things," she concedes. "I really love kids. I love the energy of children. It makes me feel young. I’m just drawn to them. They’re like magic to me. And they’re drawn to me, the childlike part of me that never did grow up. I look kinda cartoonish and look like a Mother Goose or a Cinderella or a Fairy Godmother -- kids kinda respond to that. Almost like a cartoon. And my voice is small. My energy is like that. I think it just works. And it’s great for the Imagination Library."
The Imagination Library has given out more than 60 million books, with 750,000 books being distributed each month. More information, including how to sign up or donate, can be found here.