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The country icon got to know some of the South Yorkshire children who will benefit from her Imagination Library scheme, in which free books are supplied to kiddies under five
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Taking to the stage in a typically glitzy ensemble the 61-year-old singer treated the audience to a rendition of Nine To Five
Photo: © Getty Images

Country legend Dolly brings free books to Rotherham kids

6 DECEMBER 2007

Nine To Five star Dolly Parton is used to performing in some of the world's biggest and best known venues. Yesterday, though, the globally famous blonde took her unique style to the unlikely setting of the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham - in a bid to improve the literacy of British children.

Dolly's Imagination Library scheme - which has been hugely successful in the US - is now being launched in the South Yorkshire town, after a local councillor brought the idea back following a visit to the singer's home state of Tennessee. Under the new initiative every child under the age of five will be sent a free book to read every month.

"A lot of my kinfolk never had a chance to go to school or to learn how to read and write," said the 61-year-old, who had a tough upbringing in a small town called Smoky Mountain in Tennessee. "But I remember going to school and picking up any book I could find to read - I was fascinated with stories."

Wearing skyscraper heels and a sparkly outfit, the singer treated the audience of 250 people to a rendition of her hit Nine To Five and answered questions - including whether she was offended by dumb blonde jokes. "Why would I be offended? I know I ain't dumb, and we all know I ain't blonde," she quipped.

"I think it's fantastic," said a council leader. "We don't often get an iconic star like Dolly Parton coming to Rotherham. Most people seem to think 'up north' is still all whippets and flat caps!"

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