Dolly Parton is always up to something. Even though she recently told reporters she was taking the summer off to spend time with her family, she’s been busy working on a book to benefit her Imagination Library literacy program. Founded in 1996 in her hometown in east Tennessee, the program is designed to spark a love of reading in children and was inspired by her father.
“He was so smart but he never had a chance to go to school,” Dolly said. “He couldn’t read nor write. He was so proud of me when I started this little program. He lived long enough to hear the kids call me the ‘book lady.’ We just started it in my home county where we give books to children from the time they’re born, once a month, until they start school and it teaches them to love books, how to read, and to have somebody else read to them.”
As for the book, it will be called Dream More and is scheduled for a November release. Dolly penned the book based on Imagination Library’s mission and her own personal journey. “The steps we teach are to dream more, learn more, care more and be more so I do different chapters on those things and I put my own personal spin about my life,” she said. “I include things that happened to me, give advice, just talk about thing in my life.”
The idea for the book was born after Dolly delivered a commencement speech at the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2009. She agreed that it would be a great idea and set to put pen to paper. She’s thrilled with the outcome.
“It turned out to be a very fun, positive, uplifting book,” she said. “At the very end of the book it has all sorts of fun things like Q&As, things people have asked me throughout the years, and the responses and a lot of things people know me for. It’s fun reading and hopefully it will be uplifting to people. It’s not the story of my life but I certainly cover parts of it in it.”
At the end of the day, Dolly’s biggest reward comes from the children that take part in the Imagination Library program. “They don’t know I sing,” she said. “They don’t know I write. They don’t know nothing about me except I’m the ‘book lady.’ Everywhere I go, they say ‘thank you for the books, thank you for the books’ which makes me feel great.”
Dolly’s latest project, An Evening With… Dolly, available exclusively at Cracker Barrel, was just certified gold for selling more than 500,000 copies.