Dolly’s library for children

Country superstar Dolly Parton launches Imagination Library,
Country superstar Dolly Parton launches Imagination Library,

Country singer Dolly Parton has become the latest celebrity to say “ay up me duck” as she launched a charitable scheme that will send free books to children in Bulwell from birth until their fifth birthday.

The country singer gave the East Midlands greeting in a video address to launch the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Nottingham.

The city council hopes the scheme, which is being extended to Bulwell, Aspley, Arboretum and St Ann’s, will improve child literacy rates.

Dolly Parton said: “This program is one of the most important ways I know to improve the educational opportunities for children in our communities. I want kids to love books, to have an emotional connection – even a reverence for books. I am most proud of the fact that every child in the Imagination Library does not have to grow up without books in their home.”

Her book scheme is already running in Bilborough, Hyson Green, Radford, Dunkirk and Lenton for several years.

In Nottingham, only 60 per cent of four-year-olds meet expected reading standards - compared to the national average of 74 per cent, the council said.

The initiative is being rolled out as part of the £45m Small Steps Big Changes project, which the council said was set up to give those aged three and under “a better start in life”.

Councillor David Mellen said: “Through working together with Dolly’s charity we can encourage more parents to explore books at home with their children.

“We know this will help them to start school with a much greater confidence.”

Originally sparked by volunteers in Wollaton, the scheme gained support from The Rotary Club of Nottingham, Castle Cavendish and Nottingham City Council.

As part of a week of action there will also be cake sales, a ‘Double Denim’ day, people in Dolly fancy dress and the council bosses will raise money through a flash mob line-dance to a Dolly song at Loxley House.