12.15.2021 – imagination

seeds of dreams are found in books
golly miss dolly

Since moving to the South, I can report there are indeed some things southern that southerners take seriously.

Very seriously.


Well, college football anyway.

On this devotion to college athletics, all I can say is that my old college up north has, since 2018, played in the NCAA Final Four of all FOUR major sports.

That includes, football, basketball, baseball AND hockey.

When UGa or ‘Bama add a hockey team, call me.

The love and devotion to that food item known as grits is real.

I have had some that are really good.

I have some that were like eating ice cream on the beach on windy day.


And there is Dolly Parton.

The patron Saint of the South.

Being from the North, I knew of Miss Dolly.

Even one of my favorite northerner authors, Jim Harrison once wrote about the crystal clarity of Miss Dolly’s voice.

She seemed sweet but no one to be taken seriously or at least not too seriously.

Miss Dolly is on my mind because the other day I was online at my local library which here in the Low Country is the Beaufort County Library.

There was an announcement on the website that the Beaufort County Library, in partnership with the LowCountry Community Church, was now a part of Miss Dolly’s Imagination Library.

Through this partnership with the Imagination Library, free books were now available to kids in the area.

I was aware of this program if vaguely so.

Some years ago, with much fanfare it seems to my memory, Dolly Parton announced that she wanted to give books to kids.

Very sweet, but not something I took very seriously.

I was sure it was pretty much a publicity stunt of some kind.

It seems like I remember reading that over one million books had been given away through this program.

But in the back of my brain were other memories about Miss Dolly,

Miss Dolly had recently donated a large amount of money to Covid Vaccine research.

Back a few years ago when fires went through the Great Smokey Mountains part of Tennessee where she was born, Miss Dolly cut an album of songs and the proceeds went to relief agencies.

Intrigued enough by the announcement and these other memories, I clicked on the link to read about this new partnership.

I went with a cynical, ‘oh really‘, ‘isn’t that sweet‘ pre-set suspect animus in my mind.

Then I read the announcement.

Then I read some more.

Then I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer to thank God for people like Miss Dolly.

I figured that this program sent some lucky kids a book.

And it does.

Once a month.

Every month.

Until the lucky kid turns five.

The program had not delivered just one million books, BUT one million books A MONTH.

I had to read that part a couple of times to make sure I read it right.

What the program needs is a local non-profit as a partner.

I immediately searched the zip codes where my grand children live to see if the program was available there.

If it was, my grand kids were going to get signed up.

Sad to say it wasn’t.

Maybe there are flaws to the program.

Maybe there are flaws that make this program hard to partner with.

Maybe, maybe maybe.

On the other hand, maybe this is one of those programs that people, for reasons mentioned, think this is a sweet little program but not one to be taken seriously.

I don’t want to think that.

I want to think this program exists to put books in the hands of kids.

I want to believe it.

I want to believe it is what it is and says what it says and does what it does.

I want to believe that Miss Dolly is as sweet as I think she is.

I want to believe that Miss Dolly is as serious as she says she is.

The Imagination Library website states:

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans five countries and gifts over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

The website then quotes Miss Dolly herself:

When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true.

I know there are children in your community with their own dreams.

They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister.

Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

I also remember that recently the state of Tennessee was planning to put up a statue of Miss Dolly.

As I remember it, Miss Dolly asked that the money go to charity instead.

Very sweet.

Very Very Sweet.

Very serious.

Why isn’t the Imagination Library available where you live?

You want to do something during covid, there isn’t anything much easier than ask this question.

Ask this question, then do something about it.

The Imagination Library is looking for the next local champion.

As Miss Dolly said, The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.

An Imagination Library.

Dreams that go beyond the wildest dreams.

Dolly Parton speaks at the Library of Congress. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

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