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Dolly Parton brings her Imagination Library charity to Ireland

Dolly Parton brings her Imagination Library charity to Ireland
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library mails free books to children each month from birth until they turn 5. (M. Spencer Green / Associated Press)

Dolly Parton, the country music legend and longtime philanthropist, is bringing her literacy charity for children to Ireland, the Irish Times reported Thursday.

Parton announced that her Imagination Library, which mails free books to children each month from their birth until their fifth birthday, will launch in the Dublin suburb of Tallaght.

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"I know there are children in Ireland with their own dreams — the dream of becoming a doctor, an inventor or a teacher. Who knows, maybe a writer or singer," Parton told the Irish Times. "The seeds of these dreams can often be found in books, and the seeds planted in a community can grow across the world."

Partnering with Parton on the project is CDI, a Tallaght-based children's charity. Marian Quinn, the CEO of the charity, said she was "delighted" to welcome the Imagination Library to Ireland.

"We aim to reach 3,200 children with 21,600 books in Dublin 24 in the first year alone," she told the news outlet. "Our aim is to then scale up to other parts of the country."

Some of the books sent to children will have a letter from Parton enclosed, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Imagination Library, administered by Parton's Dollywood Foundation, has been sending books to children since 1995. It was launched in Tennessee’s Sevier County, where Parton grew up in the town of Pittman Center.

Parton took the program national in 2000, and three years after that, the charity had mailed 1 million books to children around the U.S. In 2006, Parton launched the charity in Canada, and it expanded to the U.K. and Australia soon after that. Audio and Braille books were added to the program in 2011.

In 2018, the charity announced it had sent 100 million books to children across the world.

On the Imagination Library website, Parton said the charity was inspired by her father, who was illiterate.

"Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done," Parton wrote. "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 have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams."

In a 2013 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Parton praised the United Way for its support of the Imagination Library.

"They're doing amazing things," Parton said. "Every day, something new happens, and they're getting more books into the hands of more children."

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