Dolly Parton is on a mission to get kids to love reading — and she just passed a major milestone in her years-long campaign to send books to kids around the world.
On Tuesday night, the country music singer’s charity Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book since its inception in 1995, Mashable reports.
The donation came as a part of a newly-launched monthly reading program for Washington D.C. youth at the Library of Congress, according to a press release.
“I always like to say that 100 million books have led to 100 million stories,” Parton said in a statement. “I am so honored that our little program is now grown to such a point that we can partner with the Library of Congress to bring even more stories to children across the country.”
Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 in order to mail “free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income,” the charity’s website says.
While the program began by mailing 1,700 books to kids in East Tennessee, where Parton is from, it has since grown to encapsulate millions of children in four countries.
Although books are sent at no-cost to families, participating communities must determine a “Local Champion,” such as a local school, library, or business to be “responsible for securing funds to cover that cost.” Imagination Library sells the books to these “Local Champions” at wholesale prices, according to the website.
The organization now donates books to 1 million registered kids of all ages and background in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, according to the Library of Congress.
Read More: This May Be the World's Most Insane Library
Parton also stepped up with book donations in the wake of extreme weather events in the United States last year.
She partnered with First Book and Penguin Young Readers to donate 500,000 books to hurricane affected areas in October, USA Today reports.
“I know in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, books are not the first thing people need or miss,” Parton said at the time. “But I also know from our past experience that after some time has passed, families, schools and libraries are eager to replenish their shelves, and their hearts, with books.”
Early childhood education — including ensuring young kids have access to reading materials at home — has been shown to have positive lifelong effects for children, Child Trends reports.
But children living in poverty are 24% less likely than rich ones to have a parent read to them daily.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and ensuring access to quality education for all students is goal number four. The Global Goals call for “quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education” for all boys and girls by 2030. You can join us and call on US government and business leaders to fund the Global Partnership for Education here.
To get there, organizations like Parton’s are critical at ensuring kids get an education both within and outside of schools.