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Book chest

Few would argue that Dolly Parton is not well-endowed. Fewer would suspect that those endowments lie in the field of literacy.

But Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, says the country and western singer should become a national reading inspiration.

Dolly's philosophy is that while working nine to five ain't no way to make a living, reading between nought and five is. Her Imagination Library literacy scheme in the United States provides children with a book a month for their first five years. It was enough to convince Mr Douglas of Ms Parton's ample charms. Speaking at a Westminster Education Forum seminar on literacy, he said: "Those two lessons, embedding and sustaining, are things we need to consider, too. A child responds not only to the school environment, but to the wider society environment."

Children who learn to love reading early on, he said, will continue to love reading for the rest of their lives. This should come as little surprise.

Ms Parton, after all, is mistress of sustained emotion. "I," she famously sang, "I-I-I will always love you." For details see: www.dollysimaginationlibrary.com

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