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Source: City of Southampton

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book-gifting programme for children aged 0-5 operated by the Dollywood Foundation, Dolly Parton’s charity.

It will provide around 100 children in Southampton who are supported by the council’s Virtual School with a free book every month until their fifth birthday.

Southampton City Council’s Virtual School supports the education of the city’s looked after children and young people. Although these children remain the responsibility of the school where they are enrolled, the Virtual School’s team of dedicated education professionals works together with teachers, carers, social workers and health professionals to help children achieve their full potential.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library aims to inspire a lifelong love of books and reading by placing books into the hands of children. The books are personally addressed to each individual child and are carefully selected by a panel of experts in early childhood development and reading. A child who enrolled in the scheme from birth to their fifth birthday will build their own home library of up to 60 books.

The books have been donated by the Imagination Library and will be addressed to children and posted to their homes. All children who take part in the scheme will receive a very special first book – ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, a special edition of the children’s classic with a foreword from Dolly herself.

Councillor Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council said:

“Growing up, we all had a favourite book which we would always read and think fondly of. Sitting down with a family member and reading together instils a love of reading at a young age, brings us closer and has a big impact on attainment at school. I’m thrilled we’re able to team up with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to offer our youngest looked after children free books, so that they can be encouraged to have these experiences with parents, carers and friends. All our children deserve the best start in life and this partnership helps us to do just that in our city.”

Dr Marion Gillooly, Executive Director, The Dollywood Foundation UK said:

“We are delighted to be working with Southampton City Council to offer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children supported by the Virtual School. We hope that these children will enjoy receiving their gift from Dolly every month, and that this will help them experience the joy of reading at home, with all the benefits this brings.

“Thanks to a generous donation from Make My Day Better, we are working in partnership with Virtual Schools across England to offer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to all looked after children up to the age of 5. We are proud of our growing network of partnerships across the UK, supporting our mission to inspire a love of reading. We know that having books in the home is key to supporting early language and literacy development, which is crucial in giving children the best start in life. As Dolly herself says, ‘you can never get enough books into the hands of enough children.’”

MIL OSI United Kingdom