Dolly Parton’s Impact on Early Reading

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

Who doesn’t know Dolly Parton? Islands in the Stream, Jolene, I Will Always Love You, 9 to 5 (both the song and the film with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), and of course her duets with Kenny Rogers. But, and you might not know this (we didn’t!), Dolly’s making an actual impact on reading and literacy. Here’s how.

A while ago, whilst driving, Paul was listening to Dolly Parton’s America, a 9-part podcast hosted by Jad Abumrad who also hosts Radiolab. One of the episodes discusses Dolly’s Imagination Library, which is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school. The program is available for all children.

The program kicked off in 1995 and grew exponentially in no time. First, books were only distributed to children living in Sevier County, Tennessee where Dolly…

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