File under good news: Dolly Parton, affectionately dubbed the Book Lady, is bringing storytime to audiences through the new video series “Goodnight with Dolly.”
Set to run for 10 weeks, the program features Parton reading children’s books every Thursday, with the aim of “comforting and reassuring children during the shelter-in-place mandates.” The country singer revealed the plans Monday, noting that the first “Goodnight with Dolly” reading will air April 2 on the Imagination Library’s YouTube page.
“This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but the timing never felt quite right,” Parton said in a statement. “I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honor for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think.”
The program pulls titles from Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy advocacy group she founded in 1995 to provide age-appropriate books to children for free. Kicking off the series is Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine that Could,” which is sent out as the welcome book when children register for the Imagination Library. Other titles include Loren Long’s “There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake,” Parton’s “I Am a Rainbow,” Sophy Henn’s “Pass It On,” Patty Lovell’s “Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon,” Steve Breen’s “Violet the Pilot,” Floyd Cooper’s “Max & the Tag-Along Moon,” Matt de la Peña’s “Last Stop on Market Street” and Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.”
The news comes after the postponement of “The Library that Dolly Built,” a documentary about Parton and the Imaginary Library. The film was scheduled to be released on April 2, but has since been rescheduled for a nationwide release the week of Sept. 21, 2020. The new date will commemorate the 25h anniversary of the Imagination Library.
“Although it was the right thing to do, postponing the screening of our documentary was a disappointment,” Parton said. “So many of our Imagination Library affiliates had organized events around the nationwide screenings, however, things do have a way of working out so the documentary will still have its day.”
Parton’s Imagination Library provides over one million books monthly to children up to the age of five. In 2018, the group celebrated sending its 100-millionth title to readers (which happened to be Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”). The following year, the Imagination Library sent over 17 million books to children.
“I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories,” Parton said in 2018 after her library hit its milestone. “I am so honored that our little program has now grown to such a point that we can partner with the Library of Congress to bring even more stories to children across the country.”
Top Image: Dolly Parton reads "Coat of Many Colors" to children at the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Photo: Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.