Peabody in the news

We interview the country music star and partner to our London literacy programme

We're working with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a programme aiming to improve young children's literacy skills and foster a love of reading.

Peabody residents living in certain London boroughs with childen aged 0-5 can sign up and receive a book every month for the next three years. 

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library runs throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom

To register

Email Symone Browne symone.brown@peabody.org.uk

or

Want to volunteer?

Interview with Dolly Parton 

We caught-up with Dolly ahead of her O2 and Glastonbury shows to find out more...

How long has the Imagination Library been active and how many children has the library helped to date?

I started this way back in 1997 just for the children of my hometown.

In 2001, we started to grow in Tennessee, then we expanded to other parts of the country and before I knew it, we were operating in Canada, the UK, and Australia.

It’s hard for me to believe that we now work with organisations like Peabody to put 65 million books in the hands of children.

Where did the idea of the Imagination Library come from?

I wanted to do something to honor my Daddy.

He was the smartest man I have ever known but he could not read. Although he did pretty good in supporting all of us kids, there is no telling what he could have accomplished if he had learned to read… and not just him. I had all kinds of relatives who really struggled because they could not read or write.

So when I heard about all of these kids in my hometown who were starting to school with no exposure to books — I just knew I had to something to right that wrong.  

Dolly Parton Imagination LIbrary
We're looking for volunteers to get involved in the programme

What difference has the Imagination Library made?

I am most proud of the fact that every child in the Imagination Library does not have to grow up without books in their home.

I want kids to love books, to have an emotional connection — even a reverence for books. There is one thing I know about all children — if they love something they will do it and if they don’t, they won’t. 

Why should parents/carers enrol their children?

People struggle to make ends meet and many parents may want to buy books but they can’t afford it.

Our kids have books. But the main reason a parent should do this for their child is they can see the joy it brings to their family.

The joy of cuddling up with a little one is a joy unlike any other. Right before their eyes, they can see their child grow — mentally and emotionally. Now, how good is that!

How does it make you feel knowing you are making a difference to the lives of Peabody residents?

It makes me feel good.But I don’t get too caught up in thinking that I am some high and mighty angel in all of this.

At the end of the day, it is the family and the community that makes a difference in the lives of children. I feel blessed just to be a part of it.

What are you most looking forward to seeing/doing when you are in tour in London?

I love London and all of the people in the UK.

It feels like home to me because all of our people in the Smoky Mountains came from the brave folks who made their way to our area from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. 

In terms of sightseeing, I usually don’t have much time to do that. I am always leaving some place to go to some other place.

I tell you what I do like, though — clotted cream. It’s the best thing in the world but I have to hold myself back or else I would get as big as the Titanic and I don’t want to sink quite yet! 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

More information

Contact Symone Browne at Peabody email symone.brown@peabody.org.uk.

“Peabody is delighted to be working in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to help our residents who might not otherwise access the enjoyment and knowledge books can bring," says our Chief Executive, Stephen Howlett.

"Books provide a mine of information and play an important part in increasing reading skills, education and the use of imagination.

“Research shows that reading with your child is the single most important thing a parent/carer can do to help children’s education and we hope by offering free books, we will encourage just that. 

“Dolly’s dad and the Imagination Library which Dolly set up in his memory are nothing short of inspirational.”