Hundreds of children enjoy free books thanks to Dolly Parton

Children across Scotland have received more than 25,000 free books thanks to a partnership between country music star Dolly Parton and the Wheatley Foundation.

The foundation, part of the Wheatley Group, has teamed up with Parton’s Imagination Library to help children develop reading skills.

The Imagination Library was founded by the singer in 1995 and allows children under the age of five to submit a specially selected book every month for free until their fifth birthday.

Paddy Gray

Paddy Gray from the Wheatley Group board praised the program (Handout/PA)

On National Reading Day on January 23, the Wheatley Foundation announced that a total of 1,293 young children had signed up for the scheme – 25,206 books had been delivered as of 2018.

The books are available to tenants at Wheatley Homes in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dumfries and Galloway.

The chairman of the Wheatley Foundation, Professor Paddy Gray, said: “The Imagination Library is a great way to introduce young children to the joy of reading.

“In addition to increasing opportunities for children later in life, it also really encourages regular family time.

“On National Reading Day, we are proud to announce that we have already given away 25,000 books to children in Wheatley communities.”

Lyndsay Calderwood from Stranraer enrolled her three-year-old son Alfie in the program 12 months ago.

The 37-year-old said: “We love the Imagination Library. I worked as a nurse in a nursery and I know how important reading is for a child.

“It’s great to have access to this show and it’s great to get a new story every month. Alfie loves to read, but a new book is really getting him to read. It’s wonderful that the package is addressed to him and he loves opening it.

“The Imagination Library is a great service. New books can be expensive, so it could be beneficial for many families and their children.”

Parton’s flagship program, The Dollywood Foundation, has given away over 200 million free books in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

Client of Wheatley Homes South, Lyndsay Calderwood and Alfie

Lyndsay Calderwood and Alfie use a schema (handout/PA)

Imagination Library sends over two million high-quality, age-appropriate books to enrolled children from birth to five years of age each month.

Parton said she envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more.

Kirsty Hill, Regional Director of The Dollywood Foundation (Scotland), added: “We are thrilled to celebrate with the Wheatley Foundation by delivering the Imagination Library’s 25,000th book to children in their communities. Dolly Parton’s ongoing commitment to supporting children in Scotland through the Imagination Library means more and more families can experience the magic of the new book that comes out every month – but we could never do it alone.

“We know the Wheatley Group shares our passion to give children the best start in life and without their commitment to Dolly’s vision, none of this would be possible. I look forward to celebrating another big milestone as we continue to work together and support more children to dream big.”

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