Legendary country singer Dolly Parton has donated a lot of books to children over the years through her literacy nonprofit, and on Tuesday she gave the Library of Congress her program's landmark 100 millionth book.
Parton, 72, said Imagination Library, the nonprofit organization she began in 1996, is one of the things that makes her feel so proud.
“It makes me feel proud of who I am, where I'm from and the fact that I am in a position to help people and especially the kids,” Parton told “Good Morning America.” “It's so important to me because if you can teach children to read they can dream and if you dream you can be successful.”
During the Library of Congress ceremony, Parton read “Coat of Many Colors” -- her program's 100 millionth book -- to an audience packed with children.
Imagination Library donates millions of books to children each year. Parents can sign up for the program to receive a monthly delivery of books for their children until they are of the age to enter kindergarten.
The award-winning singer said she began the program for her father, whom she described as a “hardworking man” who never learned to read or write.
“My daddy couldn't read and write and that always troubled him and bothered him so I wanted to do something special for him,” Parton said. “So, I got the idea to start this program and let my dad help me with it and he got to live long enough to hear the kids call me the ‘book lady.’”
Parton said The Bible was the only book in her house while growing. She said her mother used to read stories from it to her and her 11 siblings.
"[It was the] first book that we had in our home and the one that meant the most," Parton said.
Now, the singer said she reads more than 50 books a year.
"I love to read," she said. "Books have always been a really special thing to me."
Parton said she is happy her father was able to see the program grow until his death in 2000.
"I did take a lot of pride in this today," she said. "Not only for myself but also for my dad and all the little kids out there that are benefiting [from the nonprofit]."
Parton said she hopes to see her organization donate a billion books in her lifetime.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life — and it’s been a lot because I’ve been around — this is the most precious,” she said. “Maybe we’ll be back for a billion.”