Growing up in East Tennessee, I knew of Dolly Parton as a home-grown icon to many folks in those parts. Yes, she's famous for her acting, singing, song-writing (over 5,000 songs!), an amusement park and even a line of wigs (as well as certain, um...anatomical features). But there's something else the residents in her native Sevierville appreciate her for, something that has spread to other states.
in 1996, she founded a literacy program, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which mailed one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they entered kindergarten. Although it began in Sevier County, it's now in 566 counties across 36 U.S. states, and in Canada and the UK, including most recently, Scotland. Under the Scottish Book Trust, 3,341 Scottish children will have a free book every month.
I always did like Dolly, who is apparently as genuine and down-to-earth in person as she appears in public, but in a time when the Charlie Sheens get all the attention, it's good to note there are celebrities who actually care about making a difference.
And now for what got her started...her songs and singing. Her low-key bittersweet interpretation of her own song "I Will Always Love You," beats any others, in my opinion (including the famous movie version by Whitney Houston).