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The Power of Giving

Celebrating Dolly Parton’s Commitment to Literacy

Imagination Library is a nonprofit founded by Dolly Parton in 1995, with the goal of giving free books to children. It began in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was raised by a father who could not read. In its early stages, the organization sent one free book a month to every child registered from birth until kindergarten. Five years later, it had rolled out nationwide, and by 2003 they had mailed their millionth book. As of 2013, Imagination Library sends out books to over 1.2 million kids in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.

“I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my daddy,” Parton said in a letter published on the library’s website. “He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

On February 27th, 2018, Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book, a massive milestone. At an event held at the Library of Congress, she read her own children’s book, Coat of Many Colors, to an audience. The reading is part of her new collaboration with the Library of Congress, in which children’s books will be read aloud by their authors and shared with libraries and viewers around the country via the internet.

Imagination Library is fueled by partnerships with companies that donate the books and shipping resources needed to make Parton’s dreams come true. Other key sponsors include Rotary International and Dollywood, the singer’s own theme park located in the Great Smoky Mountains.

One day after that milestone, nearly another 100,000 books have already gone out. The work is ongoing. Those who want to help or would like to register a child can do so here.

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Profiles

James Patterson Donates Funds to Increase Literacy

James Patterson
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In recent interviews, acclaimed author James Patterson has announced that he will be donating $1 million to independent bookstores throughout the next year. Patterson’s desire to support independent booksellers stems from his aspiration to increase nationwide literacy, with a particular focus on getting children excited about reading. Increasing childhood literacy is something that personally resonates with the author, who spent years trying to get his young son to enjoy reading, knowing that it would impact the quality of his life as he grew older.

This isn’t the first time Patterson has supported literature-based organizations by donating funds out of his own pocket, and it certainly won’t be the last. According to Melanie Grayce West for the Washington Post, the author “is serious about getting kids to read and he’s made it a cornerstone of his philanthropy.” Patterson, who can now add children’s literature to his list of mastered genres, is a book-centric activist who wants others to recognize that the importance of literacy rivals other pressing issues that face children today.

In addition to his promise of donating $1 million to independent bookstores around the country, Patterson hopes to spark an entire campaign that will promote literacy for children. Over the years, the author has been active in this cause by starting academic scholarships and donating millions of dollars to programs that promote education and reading. This year alone Patterson has awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to students earning teaching degrees, the Washington Post reports. He also regularly funds book stipends, and hosts essay competitions that have awarded aspiring teachers and students thousands of dollars. The author pays for all of these programs out-of-pocket.

“For a lot of kids in this country, if they don’t become competent readers, they are going to find it impossible to get through high school,” Patterson has said. Donating funds to independent bookshops is his newest strategy to support and promote nationwide literacy. It’s philanthropists like Patterson who are helping to better the lives of children, which for the author, stems from encouraging a love of reading.