Dolly Parton visits Tacoma to celebrate state launch of ‘Imagination Library’ program

Aug 15, 2023, 8:00 PM

Image: Dolly Parton arrives at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 5,...

Dolly Parton arrives at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

(Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Legendary singer Dolly Parton paid a special visit to Tacoma Tuesday — but not just to belt out her famous tunes.

Rather, the songwriter and philanthropist celebrated the statewide launch of her “Imagination Library” program during an event at the Pantages Theater.

Parton didn’t disappoint her fans. After a fireside chat with Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, she sang a few favorite tunes to a crowd of close to 900 attendees, many wearing their best sequins for her. The event was private.

“I came here because I am very, very proud of the Imagination Library,” Parton said, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Reykdal asked what advice Parton had for students and educators.

“I really think we just need to have a little more kindness, just think a little harder,” Parton said as part of  her answer, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “Instead of just seeing what all we can do to each other, let’s see what we can do for each other.”

In honor of Parton’s visit, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed Tuesday as “Imagination Library of Washington Day.”

So far, 65,000 Washington children are enrolled and more than 1.6 million books have been gifted around the state. Washington is the 11th state to launch the program, and the first state on the West Coast to do so.

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 2068, which expanded Imagination Library across the state as part of a collaboration with the state superintendent’s office and United Ways of the Pacific Northwest.

The bill set up a state-based nonprofit to coordinate its efforts. That nonprofit was tasked with managing daily operations for the Imagination Library in Washington, developing and promoting a public awareness campaign, and establishing more affiliate branches.

From 2022: State lawmakers approve expansion of Dolly Parton’s ‘Imagination Library’ program

For Vicky O’Keefe, a rural librarian on Orcas Island, improving access to books is essential.

“I see those children, I read to their faces every day,” O’Keefe said. “There’s nothing more precious than a bright beautiful book in the life of a child.”

And as a decades-long Dolly fan, getting to see her idol for the first time is nothing short of incredible.

“I fell in love with Dolly Parton when I heard the song ‘Here You Come Again’, I was about 18, and I’ve been following her ever since,” O’Keefe added. “And I know the power of books with children. So not only do I love her as a singer, and a human being, but as a gift-giver of books.”

Started in 1995 in Parton’s home county in East Tennessee, the Imagination Library delivers one free age-appropriate book per month to enrolled children under 5 and their families.

Families with children can sign up for the Imagination Library here (after providing the city where you reside in an online form to check the availability of the program in your area).

Previous coverage: Dolly Parton, Eminem, Lionel Richie get into Rock Hall of Fame

If you’re interested in seeing what happened in Tacoma, the recording of the event, which was live streamed, is available on the TVW website.

Contributing: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest.com

Local News

Image: The headquarters for the Tacoma Police Department is shown in May 2021 in Tacoma....

Kate Stone

Opening statements begin in trial of Tacoma officers accused of killing Manny Ellis

Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of three Tacoma police officers charged in the death of Manuel "Manny" Ellis.

5 hours ago

sherman chancellor legion...

Frank Sumrall

Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor part of group opening a sports bar in Bellevue

The bar, named "Legion" after the Seahawks' defense known as the "Legion of Boom," features upscale soul food and big screens to watch sporting events.

6 hours ago

Seattle small business...

James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio

City of Seattle makes money available for small businesses impacted by crime

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has a Storefront Repair Fund available to small businesses and now, non-profit organizations qualify as well.

9 hours ago

united airlines boeing...

Frank Sumrall

United Airlines becomes world’s largest 787 operator after recent Boeing order

United Airlines is expanding its 787 Dreamliner fleet, exercising options to order 50 additional 787-9 airplanes from Boeing.

9 hours ago

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy...

Bill Kaczaraba

Kevin McCarthy ousted as Speaker of the House

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, was voted out of his job Tuesday in a showdown, a first in U.S. history.

9 hours ago

doctor behind caseload...

Micki Gamez

Your doctor is in, but could be running way behind

A Tukwila resident says a change in Kaiser Permanente's practices means it's been nearly impossible to see her doctor, and her doctor agrees.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Dolly Parton visits Tacoma to celebrate state launch of ‘Imagination Library’ program