PORT CHARLOTTE – With millions staying home with their children in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Dolly Parton has a new program as part of her Imagination Library where she will read bedtime stories to kids through online videos.

“This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while,” she said, “but the timing never felt quite right. I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honor for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think.”

“Goodnight with Dolly” will feature several books, including “The Little Engine That Could,” Watty Piper’s classic tale of a determined little engine celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. The story has been a source of inspiration for Parton and it is the welcome book that all newly registered children in the United States and Canada receive when they sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The line-up also includes two books written by Parton herself, “I Am a Rainbow” and “Coat of Many Colors.”

The videos are posted once a week at 7 p.m. and are available at the Imagination Library website. https://imaginationlibrary.com. The 10-week series started April 2.

The iconic entertainer and businesswoman founded the Imagination Library in her home state of Tennessee in 1996, inspired by her father’s inability to read or write. In hopes of inspiring a love of reading and learning from a young age, the program mails one free, age-appropriate book to registered children each month.

The Imagination Library has grown to serve over 1.5 million children across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Charlotte County Imagination Library was launched in 2011 by local business owner Shawn Gilstad, also a native of Tennessee. Gilstad partnered with Sherrie Moody and the Charlotte Players, and the local program has served thousands of children and mailed in excess of 90,000 books.

“We are currently mailing 1,900 books every month to Charlotte County children under the age of five,” said Moody. “It costs about $25 a year for each child, and new kids are coming into the program all the time.”

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