For over 20 years Dolly Parton has been bringing the gift of reading to kids across America by donating free books. Parton donated her 100 millionth book to the U.S. Library of Congress on Tuesday and marked the beginning of a new chapter in her Imagination Library.

In 1995, Parton created the Imagination Library, an organization that mails free books to kids up to age 5 in cities all over the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

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Since then the program has grown from donating books to 2,000 kids a month to 1.1 million kids every month. This week Parton unveiled the Imagination Library’s 100 millionth book to the Library of Congress—a copy of her own children’s book, Coat of Many Colors.

Parton read the book to the kids attending the event and gave them each a copy to take home. She also shared just why she loves books and reading so much: Parton was inspired by her father.

“My dad never had a chance to go to school and daddy couldn’t read or write,” Parton shared. “But he’s the smartest person that I’ve ever known.”

Parton also announced a new partnership between the Library of Congress and her Imagination Library. Once a month the Library of Congress will host a reading of the Imagination Library’s book selection and the readings will be live-streamed at libraries across the country. You can see the full ceremony in the video above.

What are your library’s best kids’ programs? Share your thoughts in the comments.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Library of Congress via YouTube

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