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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 16:03 GMT
Dolly brings scheme to Yorkshire
Dolly Parton in Rotherham
Dolly met with children and parents during her visit to Rotherham
Country and Western star Dolly Parton chose Rotherham in South Yorkshire as the destination to launch her pre-school literacy scheme in the UK.

Ms Parton unveiled her Imagination Library project at a former steel mill, the Magna Science Adventure Centre, in Rotherham on Wednesday.

Every child in Rotherham will be sent a free book every month from when they are born until they are five.

The multi-millionairess met parents and children when she visited the centre.

Wearing a grey suit, the singer shouted: "Well hello, everybody" to a crowd of dignitaries, public and media outside the centre as she got out of her car, flanked by security guards.

She said she had been persuaded to launch the scheme in Rotherham by the leader of the council, Roger Stone, who visited Tennessee with the town's chamber of commerce and an international business group for women.

Dolly Parton arrives in Rotherham
The singer greeted a crowd as she arrived at the former steel works

She said: "I didn't know much about Rotherham other than what we heard when we started talking to Roger Stone.

"He had been over to the States and found out about our programme and asked if we would bring it here to the children.

"He thought it was a wonderful idea, so two years later we are here, and we are very excited about it."

She said her desire to promote childhood reading stemmed from seeing how illiteracy had disadvantaged her family.

The singer revealed how her rural Tennessee background had formed her view of how reading and writing were crucial for success in life.

"My own father and mother got married when they were very young.

"My father was from a very large family and never had an opportunity to actually go to school.

"My father couldn't read or write as [couldn't] many of my relatives and I saw how crippling that can be.

I remember sitting at my mother's feet listening to all the stories she would read
Dolly Parton

"When I got into a position to be able to do some charity work, education seemed to keep just jumping out at me."

The global singing star started the programme in her home town about 10 years ago and it has since spread across 43 states in the US.

Despite her global success and multi-million record sales, Ms Parton said she had one abiding memory of her time in a mountain shack her family called home.

"I remember sitting at my mother's feet listening to all the stories she would read."

Dolly Parton talks about plastic surgery and poverty

Town book plan a Dolly good idea
05 Dec 07 |  South Yorkshire

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