One of Dolly Parton’s Favorite Nicknames Is ‘The Book Lady’

Dolly Parton is nothing short of a cultural icon. With a career of near-constant success spanning eight decades, she’s one of the most beloved entertainers you’ll find anywhere. She’s a household name and recognized all over the world. Her image and icon status goes beyond her music and signature look though. Even those who’ve never heard a Dolly Parton song will usually know who the queen of country is.

Dolly’s warm and sunny attitude and unerring wholesome politeness have made her almost feel larger than life, but the amount of goodwill created through her philanthropic work and community involvement over the years indicates that she’s very down to Earth. She even picked up one of her favorite nicknames through one of her charities, and while billions of adults all over the world know Parton’s name, many children just know her as “The Book Lady”

Dolly Parton: an American treasure

Dolly Parton is more than just a legendary singer at this point– she’s an essential piece of Americana itself. She was a songwriter from an early age, often saying she was inspired by her mother singing folk songs when she was a child. Most of her early work focuses heavily on her religious upbringing and humble roots.

Her family was very poor and had 12 children in a one-room log cabin according to the Tennessee State Museum. She sang on local programs as a youth and even once at The Grand Ole Opry at 13. It wouldn’t be until she was a grown woman and graduated from school though that Parton would make the move to Nashville and work for her success.

As she’s a household name these days, she clearly found that success. She landed a series of jobs that skyrocketed her to country music royalty overnight. Parton has been an active entertainer for nearly 70 years at this point though, and she hasn’t stayed confined to her country and folks roots. She’s branched out into Pop and Bluegrass as well and always had great success. It seems sometimes like Dolly and her voice can just do no wrong.

More than just a performer

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Though her musical successes have continued throughout every era of her career, she hasn’t stayed as just a performer though. Having grown up in poverty, Parton always wanted to give back to the community. She started small in her home area in Tennessee, but small community efforts quickly grew into large charity enterprises helping millions.

 The Dollywood Foundation opened in 1986 shortly after the ribbon cutting at the theme park of the same name and has touched millions of lives with its efforts over the years.

Through her foundation, she’s helped many charitable causes including helping spearhead early vaccination research through Vanderbilt University that would eventually lead to one of the first effective vaccinations developed.

The Imagination Library

Over the years, Parton has donated and helped raise funds for cancer research, hospitals, animal rights, and many other causes. Throughout her long career of philanthropy though, one of her first and longest-lasting focuses has always been children’s literacy. 

In 1995, she started the Children’s Imagination Library. This organization will mail one book each month to an enrolled child from their birth until they enter kindergarten. The aim of the organization is to encourage children and families to not just limit reading to school, and instill a love for learning and reading in children early on in life.

The charity started out small, only distributing books in Parton’s home county in Tennessee. It quickly grew though, and today not only delivers books to children across the entire country but in several other countries worldwide as well according to the Tennessee State Museum. The charity has run so long with Parton as its face, many children that are adults today grew up just calling her “The Book Lady” and the name stuck.

In 2018 according to the Washington Post, the organization mailed its 100,000,000th book and is still going strong. With so many young lives touched by the efforts of Parton, no wonder even with all the prestige that she’s gained over the years as the queen of country, “The Book Lady” is still her best title.

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