Celebrity Reading List: Dolly Parton's Favorite Books Are Full of Heartfelt Drama

Want to know what reads the Queen of Country holds dear to her heart?
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Want to know what reads the Queen of Country holds dear to her heart?
Dolly Parton Cartoon Photo

Dolly Parton's passion for literacy and her belief that young people should always dream big led her to launch her non-profit organization Imagination Library in 1996. Since its inception, she's been keeping children's imaginations ablaze all over the world, but when she's not making honky tonk hits herself, she, too, indulges in a good read. 

"I am often asked if it is difficult for me to choose my favorite song out of the thousands I have written–and it really isn’t hard at all," Dolly tells us. "On the other hand, it is really hard to choose my very favorite books. Hardly a day goes by without me picking up a book and reading for just a few minutes…and some days I read for hours."

Thankfully, Dolly managed to pick out some of her top titles for us to share with you. Some are classics, while others are her latest favorites. 

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton: Based on Dolly's autobiographical song by the same name, the story tells the tale of a young, poor Tennessee girl who wears a patched-up coat made out of rags that was sewn by her mother. Although she is taunted by her school mates, the little girl teaches them a lesson on what it means to be truly rich.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: A young boy from New York named Theo survives an accident that kills his mother. His world completely takes a turn when a wealthy family takes him into their Park Avenue home. Longing for his mother, Theo desperately holds onto a painting that reminds him of her. When he becomes an adult, he finds himself enraptured by the dark side of the art world.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: A young Native-American girl Molly is about to age out of the foster care system, and the only thing keeping her from staying out of trouble is a community job where she assists an elderly Irish immigrant named Vivian. The two embark on an unexpected friendship and reveal painful secrets that if unlocked, will free them both. 

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh: Forced to leave her wealthy London lifestyle after her father's death, Francis Irvine finds herself thrust into making a home for herself in the South Cape of Africa. The year is 1880 and Francis's change of scenery brings with it a love triangle; she falls for two different men—one with ambition, the other full of ideals. She must choose her path.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper: The classic tale of the power of positive thinking, a little train confronts obstacles with its powerful mantra "I think I can, I think I can..." 

Dolly on The Little Engine That Could:

"It is one of the first books I ever remember and best of all, each child that participates in our Imagination Library receives it as their very first book."

"I remember closing my eyes and saying “I think I can, I think I can” anytime I was a little nervous or downright scared. I want every child to believe their dreams can come true so if the book worked for me, it just may work for them!"

Have you read any of Dolly's favorite books?