Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Wigan Council joins Dolly Parton's free books scheme

Dolly Parton (Pic: Wigan Council)
Pre-school children will receive a free book every month

A Greater Manchester council has joined forces with country music star Dolly Parton to make reading more accessible for pre-school children.

Those aged under five in the Bryn and Ince areas of Wigan will take part in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library - a book gifting scheme.

The project is funded by local sponsors who pay for children in their community to receive free books.

The first book every child is given is Beatrix Potter's Tales of Peter Rabbit.

Once parents have signed their children up to the scheme at the local Sure Start Centre, the children receive a book a month until they turn five.

It's my dream that every child has a library of books which their parents can read to them from the day they are born
Dolly Parton

Labour MP for Makerfield Ian McCartney said: "I am delighted that following my idea, some two years ago, that a pilot is now off the ground.

"I hope that this can become a blueprint for the borough and I have extended an invitation to Dolly Parton to visit Wigan whenever she would like to."

Dolly Parton first launched the scheme in her home county of Sevier, in Tennessee, US, in 1996, with the aim of fostering a love of reading amongst children. The programme was launched in the UK in 2007 in Rotherham.

The singer said she was delighted Wigan was now on board.

"It's great to celebrate as another bunch of kids start to receive their first books," she said.

"It's my dream that every child has a library of books which their parents can read to them from the day they are born. It's a big dream, but I've always been a mighty big dreamer."



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