Dolly Parton has often said her proudest accomplishment has nothing to do with her career. Instead, it’s the Imagination Library, which has given away more than 150 million books worldwide, which is the thing she is most proud of, and is also the most passionate about.
“I really think it’s important … if you can read, you can self-educate yourself,” Parton said on Good Morning America, while celebrating her return to Dollywood for the first time in more than a year.”You’re just lost if you can’t [read]. I had started that whole program for my relatives. My dad couldn’t read or write, but he was so smart. I started the whole program for the county here, and had my dad involved with me. But then it turned into this wonderful thing.”
Parton never dreamed when she started the Imagination Library, how much it would grow, extending not only past East Tennessee, but across the globe.
“We’re headed towards 200 million books,” Parton boasted. “We’re at 150 million. And we’re going on up now. We’re hoping in a very short time, we’re going to be doing that. It’s been 25 years, I guess, since we started it. But I just think it’s important for children to learn to read, in the very early years to learn to read books and all of that. I’m just so proud to have been a part of anything that’s good and that’s making life a little better for people.”
“I’ve always been one to be going everywhere, all the time,” Parton acknowledged. “But we had to be so very limited. I don’t have children, no grandchildren, but I have nieces and nephews. Most people pretty much were having to stay in their own homes and do whatever. But I managed to do a lot of things, since I have my own little studio. I was on social media all the time, reading books to the children through the Imagination Library, and I was creating all kinds of songs about the pandemic, trying to lift people up and be spirited. I got to be with as many of my family as I could. I just used the time to keep working.”