Dolly Parton is famous for getting up before the chickens in her busy morning routine. The country music superstar often tends to handle business matters before dawn. No one should be surprised by an early morning call from the lady who is equal parts an inspiring songwriter and a savvy businesswoman. This morning, August 17, Dolly Parton was the one on-call with “CBS This Morning.” She had a lot to say about her Imagination Library and the crucial need for books and reading in early childhood.
Some technical difficulties got in the way of letting viewers see Dolly Parton’s lovely smile. However, her spirit and voice brought smiles to co-anchors Gayle King and Anthony Mason. Parton was the special featured guest for the “School Matters” segment. The new series features strategies and methods for ensuring solid education for children in this pandemic era.
No introductions are necessary for Dolly Parton
Gayle King was pleased to be back in the studio and at the table for the morning. King spent an extended time at what she called “the Santa Barbara Bureau” through the past several weeks. She still covered her news stories, but also shared time with her BFF, Oprah Winfrey. This was the first morning in a very long time that Anthony Mason, Gayle King, and Tony Dokoupil were all back on duty for CBS This Morning. It’s only fitting that a country music queen like Dolly Parton graced the occasion with her passion for literacy.
Gayle King started to offer an explanation and introduction to Dolly Parton after the technical difficulties were disclosed. “Don’t worry about that,” Dolly kindly interjected. “I know who you are—I’d know your voice anywhere.”
Of course, everyone knows the voice of Dolly Parton, but millions of young children know her reading voice far more than the one featured on her repertoire of indelible hits. She delights in being known as just “the book lady” to her youngest followers. She knows she has left them a legacy that will impact them for a lifetime.
The imagination Library is a dedication to her father from Dolly Parton
Gayle King noted that every book sent to a registered child with the Imagination Library has the personal touch of being mailed to the child’s name every month. “It means so much more for a book to come to a child that way,” Dolly Parton insists. The songstress loves books in school, as she told King, but she was more inspired by her father.
“My father never could read or write,” Parton reveals, “but he lived to see this [Imagination Library] become reality, and that makes me proud.” Dolly describes Robert Lee Parton as “the smartest man I ever met” and credits him with her remarkable business skills. Her father was hesitant to learn to read later in life, feeling that he was too old.
The Imagination Library was founded in 1995 by Dolly Parton. Her intention was to provide books in the county where she was born. To date, over 140 million books have been sent to children all over the world. Children from birth until first grade are eligible for the program.
“From birth to age 3 is the most important time for children, and in our case, through to age 5,” Parton reiterates in reference to literacy. “If you can read, you’re able to start educating yourself,” stresses Dolly Parton. She completely supports the augmentation and inspiration from parents and teachers along the way. Dolly also does her part to give quarantined parents a much-deserved break.
Next week, country superstar @DollyParton will join @CBSThisMorning's special coverage of #SchoolMatters. Dolly will tell us about the education efforts she's working on with her @dollyslibrary program.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 13, 2020
Goodnight’s and good deeds come with life for Dolly Parton
Gayle King got such a kick out of talking about Dolly Parton’s bedtime stories on YouTube, “GoodNight with Dolly,” which ran on Thursdays last spring, that the anchor almost forgot the rest of her topics. Dolly makes everything look easy and natural, especially for kids. She confessed that it was fun to get dressed up in pajamas in a big bed and share beloved books, wearing her glasses.
“Maybe I just gave mom and dad time for coffee and some quiet,” the legendary singer related. King praised that the storytimes were just as delightful for grown-ups as they are for the children. Dolly Parton brought it all back to basics—children thrive with literacy in their lives, and we all need a little patience with each other.
Dolly knows that dollars and love can make the difference
Anthony Mason mentioned another gift from Dolly in the spring. The petite entertainment powerhouse was among the first big givers in the fight against the virus. Her $1 million research gift to Vanderbilt University had a long-term focus.
“We are still learning about this virus and it’s going to be with us for a while,” Dolly Parton projects. We have to take it seriously. This is a very uncertain and uncommon time that will pass, though, she assures, and the songwriter puts that promise into her song, “When Life Is Good Again.” Gayle King launches into almost a full chorus, which urges that being the “better friend” and “trying to make amends” needs to come now and today instead of a far-off tomorrow.
In regard to her recent outspoken support for Black Lives Matter, covered by Country Music Alley, Dolly Parton declares that her stance is all part of “humanity and Christianity, in my case.” Every life matters and Dolly encourages that “we all need more love.” That’s not a bad lift for a Monday morning, It’s almost as good as a new book in the mail.