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Dolly Parton Will Be Reading Us Bedtime Stories Every Week

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Kathleen Keenan

Staff Writer

Kathleen Keenan is a writer and children's book editor in Toronto. In addition to Book Riot, she has written for Reel Honey, The Billfold, and The Canadian Press. She also edits a monthly newsletter for the indie bookstore A Novel Spot. Kathleen has an MA in English with a focus on nineteenth-century fiction, and there is nothing she loves more than a very long Victorian novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KathleenMKeenan or find her writing even more about books at

American icon Dolly Parton has some much-needed good news for all of us: she’ll be reading weekly bedtime stories during these difficult times. Is there anything more uplifting than Dolly Parton reading children’s books?

The 10-week program called “GoodNight With Dolly” will feature Parton reading children’s books every week. The program kicks off on Thursday, April 2 at 7 PM EDT and will be streaming on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Parton will be reading books from her Imagination Library, a book-gifting program she founded in 1995. The Little Engine that Could will be first up, followed by a selection including Last Stop on Market Street, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and more.

The singer-songwriter behind some of country’s most enduring hits, including “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You,” created the Imagination Library as a tribute to her father, who could not read or write. What began as a local book distribution program in Parton’s home county in Tennessee has since grown to an international program available all across the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Since 1995, Imagination Library has distributed over 133 million books to children under the age of five. You can learn more about the history of Imagination Library here.

Parton, or the Book Lady as she’s known to participants in the program, is a known book lover and, of course, an international treasure. Of the decision to read children stories now, she said, “This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but the timing never felt quite right. I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love.” Parton is a children’s author herself; her two picture books, Coat of Many Colors and I Am a Rainbow, will be part of “GoodNight With Dolly.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for young children, whose schools and daycares have closed and who may not understand why they can’t see their friends or play outside. Not to mention the exhausted parents trying to work from home and parent full-time, or the front-line workers who have isolated themselves from their children to protect their health. A number of children’s authors and other bookish people have stepped up to read books over social media, create coloring pages and other activities for kids, and otherwise offer some much-needed distraction during these uncertain times. And now we can all tune in and watch Dolly Parton read us a bedtime story…almost like we’re all enjoying a giant slumber party.