Over past few decades, Dolly Parton has delivered millions of books to youngsters around the world, and now she’ll be taking her literacy mission one step further and reading to them as well.

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Dolly Parton wants to read bedtime stories to the kids – and the kids at heart © Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NARAS

Launching 2 April, the East Tennessee native will host a weekly video series called Goodnight with Dolly, in which she’ll read books from her Imagination Library, a nonprofit that gifts books to kids from birth to age five, free of charge. The ten-week series will air on YouTube and across Parton’s various channels, with a focus on relieving the anxieties and stresses inherent in the current climate. 

“Dolly hopes these videos will provide a welcomed distraction during a time of unrest and also inspire a love of reading and books in the hearts of the children who see them,” an Imagination Library press release says. 

The first installment will feature The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper – a classic now celebrating its 90th anniversary – and the series will go on to include two children’s books from Parton herself (Coat of Many Colors, I Am a Rainbow) and as well as books by Loren Long, Anna Dewdney, Sophy Henn, Patty Lovell, Steve Breen, Floyd Cooper, and Matt de la Peña. 

“This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but the timing never felt quite right,” Parton said in a statement. ”I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honor for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think.”

As the release goes on to note, the read-alongs may be free of charge, but they’re not free from obligation. “The message will be to pass on the love and keep hope alive because we are all Together, You and I.”

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