The country star said it would be great to offer a free book each month to every child in Scotland.
Queen of Country Dolly Parton welcomed visitors to the first day of The Gathering 2022 with a call to action, challenging delegates to help make Scotland the first country in the world to offer free books to all of its children.
The legendary singer-songwriter spoke via a video message to those attending the two-day conference in Glasgow on Wednesday morning, urging figures from across the voluntary sector to “get to work”.
Dolly’s message welcomed hundreds of Gathering-goers, with information on her charity endeavour, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and a short tune.
The foundation, which began operating locally in Tennessee in 1995, provides children with a book every month from their birth until they turn five.
Worldwide, more than 150,000,000 books have been gifted, with over 7,000 children and families in Scotland now signed up to the programme.
The singer said: “Well hi everybody, this is Dolly. I know that after being apart for so long, getting back together makes this year extra special. And I am so glad to join such a wonderful group of people working to make the world a better place.
“Now some of you may know that I have a very special connection to Scotland both through my ancestry and through my Imagination Library. With the help of key national and local partners, we gft free books each month to children in communities across the country. To date, we have sent more than 370,000 free Imagination Library books to children and families in Scotland.
“Now I would be honoured if my Imagination Library could help you keep the promise to Scotland’s children that they would grow up loved, safe, respected and able to realise their full potential.
“In fact, how amazing would it be to offer the Imagination Library to every child from birth to age five? Scotland could have the first national imagination Library programme anywhere.
“Now I hope you have an inspirational couple of days together. So let’s put some wings on these dreams and remember that I will always love you. Now get to work, and I will too.”
Dolly was also represented at The Gathering by members of her Imagination Library charity, who led a session at the event.
Marion Gillooly, executive director for the United Kingdom and Ireland at the charity, opened, before regional directors Meg Fletcher and Kirsty Hill gave more detail on the work being done in Scotland at present.
The Queen of Country started the programme after her dad could not read and write when she was a child.
Books are now delivered by post to family homes working in conjunction with community partners, with 100 such organisations in Scotland at present.
In the UK more than 50,000 children, and 7,000 in Scotland, receive books every month, with
Ms Hill said that it is the Imagination Library’s ambition for every child in Scotland to have access to the programme.