Looked after children in the Borders will receive a free book every month until their fifth birthday thanks to a new partnership with country and western superstar Dolly Parton.
The Dollywood Foundation has been working nine to five with the Scottish Government and Scottish Book Trust to bring the Imagination Library to Scotland.
Each of the country’s 3,341 looked after children under five will build up their own personal library of up to 60 books, improving their literacy and encouraging their parents and carers to read with them.
Dolly said: “I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful effort. When I started the Imagination Library in my hometown, I never dreamed that one day we would be helping Scottish kids.
“Much of my music has been inspired by Scotland so it’s only right that we are now in a position to bring more joy into the lives of the nation’s looked after children.”
Marc Lambert, Chief Executive of Scottish Book Trust, which currently runs the successful Bookbug book gifting programme with the Scottish Government, said: “We are really delighted to be working together with Dolly Parton’s excellent Imagination Library and the Scottish Government to create this new provision across Scotland which complements and deepens the impact of the Bookbug programme.
“It’s a real first for the UK that has come about because we all share the same strong values and are determined to make a fundamental contribution to the lives and prospects of all children in Scotland, especially those who are looked after.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was developed in 1995 by Dolly for her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. She wanted to give every pre-school child their own library of books. The scheme was such a success that other communities asked to join and it has gone on to become an award-winning international programme. Around 30 million books have now been mailed to children in over 1300 communities across the world.