Friday, September 20, 2013

Thank You, Dolly Parton

Here's how Dolly Parton promotes childhood literacy 
in tens of thousands of Tennessee households (including my own)

(Before we continue, let me share a few useful links with you. Here's Dolly Parton doing "We'll Get Ahead Someday" with Porter Wagoner in 1968, and here she is singing "Jolene" from 1974.)

I've written before of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the wonderful program that mails free age-appropriate books to pre-kindergarten children in Tennessee. Every child in the state is eligible to receive one book each month, and the program has reached 51% of children in the state.

We enrolled my son in Dolly Parton's program the day he got his social security card. Once a month, my son got a book, a bona fide article of mail, and we would read it out loud as a family. As he got older, he became more engaged with the excitement of getting a new book, and he started taking over the reading duties. When my daughter joined us in 2011, she inherited the pile of books that he had outgrown. (This leads me to believe that the percentage of Tennessee children reported as participating in this program--51%--is a low figure, as younger siblings who do not enroll undoubtedly benefit from living in a house full of books.) Both of my children have grown up surrounded by books provided by the largesse of Dolly Parton and the taxpayers of Tennessee. Thank you, Dolly, and thank you, taxpayers.

All of this is prologue to explain how our hearts sank last week when we opened our mailbox to see this guy, Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!, by Nancy Carlson, waiting for us. This is the last book in the program, a milepost in a long series of mileposts marking my son's progression from infant to boy to annoying teenager (it's coming). The book even included a message from Ms. Parton herself, which I have included below.

Naturally, I do not get sentimental about matters such as this. It was his mother that got a little misty-eyed.

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