WASHINGTON • You cannot judge a book by its cover, said country music star Dolly Parton, who has been called a lot of things in her five-decade career: singer, songwriter, actress and cartoon character (her words).
But not many know that the 72-year-old is the founder of Imagination Library, a non-profit set-up that donates books to children.
Families who sign up get a book a month from birth to kindergarten. On Tuesday, she donated her organisation's 100 millionth book to the nation's Library of Congress.
"I never thought about being 'the book lady'," she joked during the event. "The painted lady, yes, the over-exaggerated lady."
One person who got a particular kick out of Parton's part-time gig as a librarian? Her dad. "He took so much pride that little kids called me the book lady," Parton said.
Mr Robert Lee Parton Sr, who died in 2000, never attended school and could not read or write.
The Imagination Library, started in 1995, was a way for the singer to honour her father. After a chat with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Parton made her way off the stage to sit with preschoolers.
She read from her children's book, Coat Of Many Colors, and sang some of the words.
"Of all the things I've done in my life - and it's been a lot because I've been around - this is the most precious," Parton said.
"Maybe, we'll be back for a billion."