Dolly Parton, The Walton’s And Books (Yes, They Are Connected)

There’s an episode of The Walton’s where Olivia makes an impulse buy – a collection of fifty Harvard Classic books from a traveling salesman.

It’s a terrible extravagance for an Appalachian family in the throes of the Depression but Olivia saw it as an investment in her family’s future. It’s moving to see how John Boy handles the books with reverence and joy. These are true gifts that are his access to learning and his own private gateway to the world outside his home on Walton’s Mountain.

It set me to thinking about books, reading and how important they are to me. I would rather buy a book than lunch (thankfully I don’t have to make that choice) and would rather read than do most anything else (I do often have to forgo reading for real life). The thought of life with limited access to books is distressing.

What’s more distressing is the lack of access many kids have to books and reading help at home. Families both rich and poor often don’t prioritize reading to their youngsters or providing them book access even to free books from the library.

Dolly Parton has a wonderful program that provides youngsters with free story books every month for the first five years of life. The program began in her home county in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains and has grown to the rest of the nation and four other countries.

The program has given away millions of books.

Her own father never learned to read and she knows all too well what it’s like to grow up doing without basic needs, much less luxuries like books. Gifting children age appropriate books during their formative years improves literacy rates, sharpens young imaginations and gives kids access to the world.

It’s a pretty special program.

Want to find out if kids in your community qualify for Dolly’s Imagination Library? Click here for details.

Gloomy Day Musings

blog.JPGIt has been gloomy here in southeastern Ohio for a few days now. The rain has settled in and, despite promises of pleasant weather this weekend, it’s starting to feel like the sun is on permanent leave.

This has caused me to reminisce about a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains three years ago this week. We had lovely weather for most of the week but the day we visited Clingman’s Dome was gloomy.

Incidentally, the visit to Clingman’s Dome included a short hike on the Appalachian Trail which runs right through the Smokys. It was my first experience on the trail and a memorable one. It is a dream of mine to hike the AT. At my age and position in life, it would have to be in sections but I think it’s a worthwhile goal. That would be an incredible adventure!

But I digress.

We saw some amazing things on this trip but, for some reason, this image has stayed with me and has become iconic to that trip. It’s not the most beautiful picture I took that trip but it’s haunting and beautiful and I like it anyway.