Country music icon Dolly Parton’s literacy program is set to bring free books to children in California next year.
The effort derives from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that launched in 1995 and has provided children under the age of 5 with free books.
The program is set to expand statewide in California and beginning in June 2023, over 2.4 million children in the state will be eligible to have books mailed to their homes each month, according to a tweet from the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday.
The “Jolene” singer, in a press release from October, said that she was thrilled by the “overwhelming support” for the program’s expansion in California.
“Today is an amazing milestone for children and families across the state,” Parton said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can inspire a love of reading in children across California that will last a lifetime.”
The inspiration for the program, which has provided over 186 million books to children in five countries and is part of the singer’s Dollywood Foundation, came from Parton’s father Robert Lee Parton, according to the program’s website.
“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,” Parton said on the site.
The expansion of Parton’s literacy program comes after she and her businesses raised $700,000 to help flood victims in Tennessee in 2021. She also opened up about using royalties she earned from Whitney Houston’s classic cover of her song “I Will Always Love You” to invest in a Tennessee strip mall in a Black neighborhood.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos honored Parton with his “Courage and Civility” award and gave her $100 million to be used for charities of her choice in November.
“I try to put my money where my heart is. I will do my best to do good things with this money,” Parton wrote in a tweet last month.