FROM STAFF REPORTS
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library today announced a monthly reading program for young readers at the Library of Congress.
For six months, from March through August, the Library’s Young Readers Center will host story time on the last Friday of each month at 10:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First St. S.E., Washington. Tickets are not required for this event, which is free and open to the public.
Each story time will feature a reading of a book for children up to age 5, music and special guests. The programs will also be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/libraryofcongress and its YouTube site (with captions) at youtube.com/LibraryOfCongress, so children and parents anywhere with an internet connection can join the fun.
The announcement came during a special presentation by the Imagination Library, which mails free books to children from birth to age 5 in participating communities within the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The legendary singer and songwriter presented the 100 millionth book it has given away to the Library of Congress at a Tuesday morning event.
“Dolly Parton’s work through her Imagination Library is awe-inspiring,” Hayden said. “They have counted the number of books given away – 100 million – but there is no way to truly quantify the impact this program has had on developing young readers across America and in other parts of the world. This is an extraordinary gift to humankind. The Library of Congress shares this passion for developing young readers and I am so pleased to announce these cooperative programs, which will provide an opportunity for children anywhere to connect with a fun, engaging reading experience.”
“I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories,” Parton said. “I am so honored that our little program is now grown to such a point that we can partner with the Library of Congress to bring even more stories to children across the country.”
Founded in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book-gifting organization that has, to date, mailed 100 million books to children in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Each month, the program currently mails a specially selected, high-quality, age appropriate book to over 1 million registered children from birth until they start Kindergarten in participating communities. Thousands of local, sponsoring organizations provide funding and support to the program.
Parton envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading in children, preparing them for school and inspiring them to dream. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language development. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
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Long-time Dolly megafan Lee Tucker covered the event for the Blade and said Parton is happy to be known as “the book lady.”
“It was great to be there,” Tucker, who’s gay, said. “When Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, the first woman and first African American to hold the post introduced Dolly there was an excitement in the crowd you rarely see in government buildings. I was in the same room as an artist I have loved since Jr. High.”
Among Tucker’s Dolly collectibles are photos, signed album covers, a poster from the Grand Ole Opry and several cardboard stand-ups depicting the country music legend.