Parton’s Imagination Library expands to UK

MUMBAI: Entertainment superstar Dolly Parton was at London’s Savoy Hotel and traveled to the Magna Science and Adventure Park in Rotherham to announce the launch of her Imagination Library program in the United Kingdom.
Founded by Parton in 1996 as a way to inspire children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library provides a new, age appropriate book each month from birth until age five to registered children in participating communities. A local sponsor in each community funds the cost of the books and mailing while Parton’s Foundation covers the overhead, selects the books, and negotiates the cost. She has created The Dollywood Foundation of the United Kingdom to manage the efforts in the UK.
Currently, 15,000 children are eligible in Rotherham. The effort is sponsored by the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.
Parton said, “I’m just thrilled beyond my wildest dreams at how my Imagination Library has grown from my home county in the U.S., all the way across the pond to The United Kingdom. I can’t say enough about the kind folks of Rotherham who invited us here, and I look so forward to working with our local partners all across the UK to give books to as many kids as possible.”
In honor of the program’s UK launch, Parton presented the first book in London to Rotherham’s first registered participants. She also will pay a visit to Rotherham where she will present the first book to a newborn. Parton will conclude the day’s activities by meeting with local and regional officials.
“I hope that my Imagination Library will fit in well with the many other wonderful programs here who do so much to help children. Together, we can make a huge difference in the lives of so many little ones,” Parton added.
Penguin Group UK will provide all books for the Imagination Library in the UK. Penguin Group USA supports the Imagination Library in the U.S. and Canada. In the UK, the Imagination Library is partnering with Royal Mail and the dsicmmGroup LTD mail house to distribute books.
In the United Kingdom, the first book in the 60-volume collection is Beatrix Potter’s popular Tales of Peter Rabbit. The first books will be mailed to registered children in early 2008.
After the launch events, Parton and her foundation hope other communities in the United Kingdom will follow Rotherham’s lead and provide the Imagination Library to their children.
The Imagination Library currently operates in more than 700 communities in 43 states in the U.S. as well as Canada. To date, 417,000 participating children in the U.S. and Canada currently receive books, with 4.5 million books mailed this year alone. Since the program’s inception in 1996, more than 11.6 million books have been mailed.
In 2000, Parton received an Association of American Publishers (AAP) honor. On 8 November, the Smithsonian Institution’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars awarded her its Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service.
Parton recently announced new European tour dates as part of the Backwoods Barbie 2008 World Tour. The European Leg starts in Stockholm, Sweden on 13 June, takes in Denmark, Norway, Holland and Ireland, culminating at the O2 Arena in London on July 5, with numerous dates in between.
Parton commented, “I had a great time when we were in Europe last tour, and I expect to have even more fun on the up and coming tour. I can’t wait to see all the fans again. We have a lot of new songs from my new CD, Backwoods Barbie, and a lot of fun things for everybody. Get ready because here I come again.”