While many celebrities support libraries and literacy programs, few have done so as passionately and prolifically as America’s sweetheart, Dolly Parton. The country music star launched the Imagination Library back in 1995, a gifting initiative that mails free books to children every month until they start school. With programs in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada, the Library has donated over a hundred million books to young readers around the world.

When asked what inspired her to start the program, Parton says it was out of love for her father:

“It was a tribute to my Daddy. He was such a smart man but he could not read or write. I saw how he struggled and I thought I should do something that would inspire kids to love reading and to love learning. He never had anyone that inspired him in such a way and, even if he did, he had to spend all of his time making a living for all of us.

I thought if we could give books to children through the mail with their name on it, books would always be a joyful moment. And if we could string together a whole bunch of joyful moments, we just might be successful in inspiring a child to love books.”

Parton recently caught up with the Amazon Book Review to share her own favorite reads of the year. Highlighting a lifelong penchant for Southern historical fiction, find her 2020 book list below.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

“This was a great adventure story and a great story to tell.” -DP
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

“I love Southern authors and historical fiction. This is set in Appalachia, which is near and dear to me.” -DP
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

“Outlander is a historical fiction/adventure series that’s filled with passion and danger—which is right up my alley!” -DP
Oral History by Lee Smith

“This is another great Southern tale by a Southern author. She has an ear for language like I have an ear for music.” -DP
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