February 15, 2019

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library lands in Ireland


Dolly: helping 0-5s

Country singer, philanthropist, and actual living legend Dolly Parton‘s Imagination Library, a charity dedicated to giving free books to children, announced this week that she will be expanding the program to Ireland.

As The Irish Times reports, the scheme, launched in South Dublin County Council Library in Tallaght on Thursday, will post kids in the Dublin24 area free reading material once a month until the age of five. Headed up by the Childhood Development Initiative, it will initially be supported by Irish mail service An Post, The Dublin Rotary Club, and Europa League regulars Shamrock Rovers FC. They aim to reach over 3,000 children in the area in their first year.

Ireland becomes the fifth country to benefit from Parton’s generosity, joining the US, UK, Canada and Australia. It’s another welcome step forward for a charity that recently celebrated giving away its 100 millionth book (yep, you read that right: One Hundred Million books). Speaking about the expansion, Parton said:

You can never get enough books into the hands of young children … I know there are children in Ireland with their own dreams – the dream of becoming a doctor, an inventor, or a teacher. Who knows, maybe a writer, or singer. The seeds of these dreams can often be found in books and the seeds planted in a community can grow across the world.

The Imagination Library, run by Parton’s Dollywood Foundation, was set up in 1995 as a response to Parton’s father’s inability to read and write. And as we’ve reported on before, it has been particularly popular in relatively deprived areas of the countries it has launched in—including Bradford and Rotherham in the UK.

With 1.3 million books currently being posted out per month by the foundation worldwide, there’s a strong case to call Parton one of the most positive influences on young readers there has ever been. It’s a lesson many other multi-millionaires in her position could benefit from heeding.

Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.