Don’t worry book lovers; Dolly Parton is always on the job from “9 to 5.” Along with being a musical icon, she is a generous philanthropist who is known for her impact on the literary community. Dolly’s passion for supporting children’s literacy and creating wonderful stories is why she is beloved by book lovers worldwide. Whether we are crying to words of “I Will Always You” or laughing while she tells one of her many hilarious stories, we just can’t get enough of Dolly. Here are 5 reasons why Dolly is a gift to readers everywhere.
Dolly’s greatest contribution to young readers is her Imagination Library. Founded in 1995 to deliver books in her home county in Tennessee, the Imagination Library has expanded significantly to become a worldwide program. The program allows children from low-income families to receive books from ages 0-5. Dolly founded the program in honor of her father, who never had the chance to learn how to read and write. Dolly proclaims, “If you can teach children to read, that teaches them to dream, and if you can dream, you can be successful.” Dolly’s belief in the importance of reading and its connection to dreaming is inspirational for children and adults everywhere.
The program is now available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland and is responsible for delivering 204,274,622 books to date.
Dolly Parton Reading to Children
Story time just got a lot more interesting! We’re used to hearing Dolly Parton on the radio, but did you know she also reads children’s books on YouTube? I know that even those of us who have aged out of children’s books are rushing to our YouTube search bar. Dolly Parton is known for reading to children in public, but YouTube allows her to reach audiences everywhere.
Dolly’s videos are a part of the Imagination Library channel, so hop on to YouTube and let story time begin.
Dolly Parton’s Autobiographies
Dolly’s story is one of colorful rags to riches as she grew up in a poor town in Tennessee and went on to become the iconic country star we all know and love. Dolly Parton has published a few books about herself that allow readers to get to know her life and her career.
My Life and Other Unfinished Business – For the first time, Dolly tells her own story with her renowned sense of humor and charm. Dolly’s childhood stories and rise to fame will warm your heart and leave you feeling inspired.
Songteller – Dolly loves to tell stories through her songs, but have you ever wondered where the lyrics came from? This book outlines some of Dolly’s personal anecdotes and memories that lie behind her songs. 175 songs are covered as Dolly dives into the songs that helped her break through social and gender barriers.
Behind the Seams – At 77, Dolly Parton is still rocking her signature style. Dolly’s glamorous look has faced some lash back in the last few decades—like much of her career—but she hasn’t let that deter her once. This book covers everything from Dolly’s childhood clothing stitched by her mother to some of her more iconic fashion looks throughout the years.
Dream More – If there is one celebrity who can influence us to dream bigger, it’s Dolly! Based on a commencement speech she gave at the University of Tennessee, this book covers Dolly’s philosophy and hopes for everyone to “Dream more, Learn more, Care more, and be more.”
Dolly Parton’s Children’s Books
As a supporter of children’s literacy, it’s no surprise that Dolly has a few children’s books of her own published. These books will look great on any young reader’s shelf. Here are 2 of Dolly’s children’s books you can gift to your young readers.
Billy the Kid Makes it Big – This fun book follows a French bulldog who dreams of barking his way to Country stardom. Follow Billy as he journeys to Nashville for the Battle of the Bow-wows and helps rediscovers his own star potential.
Coat of Many Colors – Based on Dolly’s hit song “Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly tells the story of how her mom sewed colorful rags together to make her a coat for the fall. The story covers how Dolly was made fun of for the coat but overcame the taunts through everlasting positivity and appreciation for her mother’s love stitched into the coat.
Dolly Parton Songs That Tell a Story
Dolly Parton’s love of stories transcends books and shines through her lyrics as a lot of her popular songs tell listeners stories about her own life. Dolly says, “When I was young, we didn’t go to the movies, so I just created my own stories. It’s kind of embedded in me to make up songs and stories.” Here are a few of her songs that tell us a memorable story.
Trigger Warning: The mention of certain content and topics in this next section (stillbirth) may be triggering to some readers.
“Down from Dover” – A controversial song that was originally not played on the radio, Dolly narrates the tale of a woman who left home due to pregnancy outside of matrimony. Dolly sings about how the woman spends her days waiting for the return of the baby’s father. This heartbreaking song ends in tragedy as the baby is stillborn. Dolly crosses social barriers by talking about subjects deemed taboo but real for women everywhere.
“Jolene” – Of course, we had to bring up this song! Despite the song’s heavy lyrics, the story behind it is rather light-hearted. Dolly sings about a red-headed bank teller that was a little too friendly with her husband. Dolly admits her husband enjoyed the attention, but this is not a song about an affair. Dolly’s beloved song is simply about her love for her husband and asking this woman not to try and take him away.
“Daddy’s Working Boots” – Dolly’s admiration for her father is well-known. She wrote this song telling the story about how her dad worked hard to support his wife and 12 children. Dolly demonstrates how hard of a worker her dad was by calling attention to his worn-out boots. She expresses how she hopes that when he goes to heaven one day, he receives a pair of golden boots as repayment for his selfless deeds.
Well, readers, I’m sure you’re now inspired by Dolly Parton in 5 new ways, so cue her on your playlist and start reading.