Superstar Dolly Parton on tour in 2014. Photo: Kristopher Harris/Wikimedia

Reading 9 to 5

“All children should grow up in a home full of books.”

Those were the words of country music superstar Dolly Parton yesterday as she helped to launch her Imagination Library in Cork with a video message.

The Young Knocknaheeny Area Based Childhood Programme, together with the Cork Interagency Working Group and funding partners, virtually launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Cork on Wednesday.

It means up to 3,000 children across various communities on Leeside will get a free book once a month thanks to Dolly’s programme.

In her video message, she said: “Before he passed away, my daddy told me that the Imagination Library probably was the most important thing I’ve ever done and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me because I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my daddy.

“He was the smartest man I’ve ever known and I knew in my heart that his inability to read probably kept him from seeing all of his dreams come through. Here we are today with a worldwide programme that gives a book a month to over a million children.”

Dolly continued: “Of course I have not done this alone. The real heroes of our story was the thousands of local organisations who have embraced my dream and made it their own. 

“They raise millions of dollars each year and wake up every day with a passion to make sure that their kids have every opportunity to succeed.”

Dolly added: “It’s been quite a journey, but we have so much more left to do. 
“I’d love for your community to join our family so please take the time to explore our website and let’s share this dream that all children should grow up in a home full of books. The first step is always the hardest but you never know unless you try,” she said. 

The Imagination Library Cork will put books into the hands of nearly 3,000 children living in Knocknaheeny, Hollyhill, Gurranabraher, Churchfield, Mahon, Carrigtwohill, Ashbourne House and Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre. 

Each book is personalised with the child’s name and posted directly to their home following registration. 

Should a child register at birth, they will receive a collection of 60 books by the time they turn five and graduate from the programme!
Stevie G mc-ed yesterday’s event and was joined by speakers Katherine Harford, Programme Manager Young Knocknaheeny, Marion Gillooly, Executive Director, The Dollywood Foundation UK and Grace Walsh, Senior Oral Language Development Officer/Speech and Language Therapist Young Knocknaheeny. 

Cork author Louise O’Neill and recently retired Cork City FC player Alan Bennett also paid tribute to the Imagination programme.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an international book-gifting programme, and is the flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation with over 147 million children’s books being gifted since the programme’s inception.

Visit the website for more information on registering a child and sponsorship.