Dolly Parton was “bullied” for being poor when she was growing up.
The 77-year-old country music legend – who now has a reported net worth of $650 million – grew up in a large family in rural Tennessee and has now penned the children’s book ‘Billy the Kid Makes It Big’, which is partly inspired by her childhood.
She told PEOPLE: “This little book, ‘Billy the Kid Makes It Big’, it’s really about what I’m about too. Music and a positive attitude, and it’s about standing up to bullies and just having the confidence that you can do what you dream about doing, if you just keep on going and doing it. So it just seemed Billy was a perfect little voice piece for us to have great messages for kids, because kids relate to animals, as you know. We were a very poor, big family, and we didn’t have good clothes and all the stuff like that. So we got bullied.”
The ‘Jolene’ songstress founded her Imagination Library in 1995 – which has since gone on to supply millions of children with free books – and explained that the philanthropic venture all started because her father “never got the chance” to go to school despite having the potential.
She added: “I got started doing this because of my own father. We’re very country people, living out in the woods as so many families are, very poor and they have to work in the fields and everybody has to do their part to make it. My dad was from a huge family too, 13 or 14 kids. He never got a chance to go to school. And Daddy was so smart and so hardworking, was a good daddy, but he couldn’t read and write and that troubled him. And so, I got the idea that I wanted to do something for my dad.”