Dolly Parton on Importance of Reading to Children: 'These Are the Memories That Last Forever'
Dolly Parton is working "9 to 5" to inspire children to read.
The country music star, 72, has created a special video and playlist to encourage children to explore the art of the written word just in time for YouTube Kids' global Reading Month.
"I believe initiatives like Reading Month in YouTube Kids that encourage kid's love of reading at an early age are so important," Parton tells PEOPLE exclusively. "These are the moments when dreams are born and these are the memories that last forever."
As a literacy advocate for decades inspired by her own father's inability to read and write, Parton launched Imagination Library in 1995, a book gifting program that mails free books to all children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, U.K., Canada and Australia to ensure they have the opportunity to foster their love of reading.
In March, the singer's non-profit organization donated its 100 millionth book.
"It's a fact that the most important thing we can do to inspire kids to be lifetime learners is to read to them as much as possible," Parton adds.
Explaining why she first decided to start the non-profit in 1995, Parton previously told PEOPLE, "I started it in honor of my dad."
WATCH: Dolly Parton Credits Her 52-Year Marriage to Faith
"My dad was not able to read and write — he was a country boy with a bunch of kids, and he had to work instead of going to school when he was a little boy, and so he never had the chance to get an education," she continued, adding that "it seemed to really bother him a lot and I thought, ‘Well, what can I do for my precious dad?' ‘Cause he was the greatest daddy in the world and one of the smartest people I'd ever known."
"So I said, ‘Dad, why don't we put together a little program where we give children books from the time they're born, once a month, until they start school?'" she explained. "That way, they can learn to read, love books. If you can read, you can kinda self-educate."
This Story Originally Appeared On People