They are on the lookout for people who can spare two hours a week to give nursery-aged children one-to-one language and communication support, in the form of fun, interactive twenty minute sessions.
Volunteers will work in a nursery or preschool environment, visiting twice a week, with the aim that the three children they each are supporting develop the skills to start primary school ready to read.
Ms. Parton’s involvement is through her Imagination Library project, which will issue specially-selected books not only to participating children’s learning environments, but to their homes as well, allowing youngsters to progress in their reading at any hour.
She has produced a short video clip (viewable below) backing the project in her inimitable way:
Beanstalk, who also provide training to their volunteers, say that Story Starters will give one-to-one support to 1,800 children across England over two years.
Their CEO Ginny Lunn said that “as a Beanstalk reading helper myself, I know you’ll find it will be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done so do join us.”
The scheme was set up following a £1m award from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. The University of Liverpool’s LuCid team are also part of the collaboration, measuring progress and developing a full report.
Dolly Parton’s charity work is carried out through her Dollywood Foundation, set up in 1988 two years after the opening of her Tennessee theme park of the same name. Last month she released a children’s album, I Believe In You, to raise funds for her Imagination Library.
She told People magazine: “That fact that I love kids and people relate to me looking like a Mother Goose or Cinderella — you know, one of those over-exaggerated cartoon characters — it gets children’s attention, and it keeps me young.”
You can find out more about becoming a Story Starter by visiting www.storystarters.org.uk, or calling Beanstalk on 0845 450 0301