Dolly Parton thinks having children wasn't "meant" for her.

The singer married Carl Thomas Dean in 1966 and the pair have been together ever since. Now, at 68 years old, Dolly can look back at her life without any regrets, despite never starting a family of her own.

"I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life," she told People magazine's Country edition. "I've loved their kids just like they're my grandkids, and now I've got great-grand-kids!

"Now I'm GeeGee, which is great-granny. I often think, it just wasn't meant for me to have kids so everybody's kids can be mine."

Dolly has released 42 albums throughout her lengthy career, her latest being Blue Smoke, which came out in January this year.

She's also made time for charitable ventures, such as the Imagination Library. It's a non-profit organisation the star set up to provide free books to preschoolers.

"I think kids relate to me because they think of me like a Mother Goose or a Fairy Godmother," she laughed. "I'm like a cartoon character – my voice is little and I'm an excitable little person like them! I'm very childlike in that way, in my nature."

Dolly added that she is the "Book Lady" to the students she visits, rather than a superstar country singer.