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Dolly puts children’s reading first

Dolly Parton has teamed up with Scotland’s national children’s charity Children 1st to encourage the public to spark the love of reading in every child.

The Literacy Trust estimates that over 383,000 children and young people in the UK do not have a book of their own. According to the Trust up to 50% of children in disadvantaged areas start school without the language skills they need to progress. 

Families are now being encouraged to visit Children 1st’s website each month to enjoy a recording of a story by a well-known book lover. Those that can are also being encouraged to give a monthly gift of £10 to inspire a love of reading among pre-school children whose families may not have access to books at home.

With the public’s support the charities will deliver a free book, by post, every month to a child from their birth to their fifth birthday, for the child to keep. Alongside the books, children and their families will also be offered the practical and emotional support they need to keep their children safe and support their wellbeing and development.

The first story, Mabel and the Mountain by Kim Hillyard tells the story of a fly with big plans who knows never to give up.

Mary Glasgow, Children 1st, Chief Executive said:

Cuddling up and reading a book together is a great way for families to build loving, strong relationships. Enjoying books helps children feel connected, safe and secure and enjoying the magic of stories is a great way to support language and communication skills at an early age.

Reading with very young children builds creativity, fires their imagination and is an important way to build the developmental and emotional building blocks they need for life.  

Our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will bring books to thousands of children who are missing out on the joy of stories because they do not have the same access to books that other families enjoy.

We hope that every young family in Scotland will enjoy the stories on our website and that book lovers of all ages will support us to share the love of reading and to help young families to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

A poll by the Literacy Trust showed that almost sixty percent of UK children said that reading made them feel better during the pandemic and a third said it helped them when they were feeling sad.

With the public’s support, the charities hope to work with more than 700 children and their families in the first year of their partnership.

Kirsty Hill, The Dollywood Foundation UK, Regional Director said:

We are thrilled to welcome Children 1st to the Imagination Library family. Dolly Parton’s commitment to support the growth of the Imagination Library here in the UK means we can share the joy of reading with more and more children each year. However, we couldn’t do it without the hard work and dedication of our partners who help fund and support the programme.

The charities’ “Give the Love of Reading” campaign is already being supported by players of the National Lottery Community Fund, who are helping the partnership get up and running.

Watch the stories and donate to Give the Love of Reading at:

Image: Children 1st / The Dollywood Foundation

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.