By TILEAH DOBSON
Reading is one of the most enjoyable activities for all ages. It’s also one of the most important skills young children can learn. Recognising this, the world’s most famous and enduring country music superstar, Dolly Parton, is using the upcoming Sydney production of 9 to 5 The Musical as an opportunity to bring the joy of reading to Australian kids.
Announcing a partnership between the producers of 9 to 5 The Musical and her free gifting book program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Australia, the singer revealed that a special charity dress rehearsal of the musical will be held in Sydney to raise funds for the Imagination Library.
All proceeds from the 500 tickets to the event – to be held on Sunday, 13 February, 2022 – will go directly to the Imagination Library, which Parton founded in the USA in the mid-1990s.
“I am thrilled to announce that 9 to 5 will be raising funds for a foundation I started 25 years ago and is very close to my heart, the Imagination Library,” Parton said.
“The program sends out over one million free books each month to children all around the world – I guess that’s why they call me the book lady,” she said.
Suzanne Jones, one of the producers of the musical, shared similar enthusiasm at the chance to inspire reading in children.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Imagination Library as our chosen official charity partner for 9 to 5. Dolly Parton herself established this charity initiative in the US as a tribute to her father who never learned to read. Her aim was to inspire all children to love to read, and we are looking forward to helping her accomplish that mission here in Australia,” Jones said.
Parton’s Imagination Library reportedly reaches out to more children than any other early childhood book gifting program, with high-quality and age-appropriate books sent out to children until the age of five, irrespective of their family’s income.
The program was launched in 1995, with the first books distributed to children in Parton’s home county, Sevier County, Tennessee. The program became a huge success and after five years, moved onto a national scale. By 2003, one million books has been mailed out by the Imagination Library, which is now an international initiative spanning several continents.
Parton’s Imagination Library arrived in Australia in 2013, thanks to a partnership with United Way Australia. This fruitful joint effort allowed the program to reach children in remote communities in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia by 2014.
Chief Executive of United Way Australia, Clayton Noble, expressed his delight at the upcoming charity dress rehearsal.
“We are very excited to be hosting a special charity dress rehearsal on Sunday, 13 February with proceeds from the ticket sales to go towards supporting families and carers involved in the Imagination Library, and providing the gift of a book each month to children aged 0-5 in many communities across Australia,” Noble said.
The 9 to 5 charity dress rehearsal will be held at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, at 6.30pm Sunday, 13 February, 2022. Tickets ($69.90 plus booking fee) are now available at www.ticketmaster.com.au/imaginationlibrary.
Tileah Dobson is the news editor of the Sydney Sentinel.
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