The Magic Tree House is a wildly popular series of children’s books and now, thanks to a generous gesture by the author Mary Pope Osborne, the entire 28-book collection will be put in the hands of every single third-grader in the Newark Public School District — amounting to a total of 120,000 books. Osborne announced her donation at an event held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the first set of kids already received their books, delivered personally by Osborne and her husband Will, this Wednesday.
Osborne’s donation is a part of her wide ranging efforts to promote childhood literacy and inculcate a love of reading in American youth. She explained that the most direct way to encourage that desire is to put books directly into the hands of the children. And thanks to First Book’s Marketplace which will be providing the more than 120,000 books to be given away, Osborne is doing just that.
The Marketplace is an online bookstore which caters to schools and community centers that serve children from military families, families whose income level qualifies their kids for free or reduced-priced school lunches, or those attending schools that qualify for Federal Title I funding.
“This strategic and targeted investment in the lives of third graders across Newark is a profound step toward ensuring that all our kids have the tools for academic success and brings us even closer to realizing the aspiration of 2012 as the Year of Literacy in Newark,” stated Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
“Some of the most influential individuals in the world are a child’s teachers from the earliest years. We know that when kids are reading with comprehension by the third grade that we are putting them on a life trajectory that will help to ensure they can access the full range of life’s options as adults,” said Cami Anderson, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “On behalf of Newark Public Schools, we are extremely grateful to John and NJPAC and to Mary and Will for their generous gift, and generosity of spirit, to the students and teachers of Newark.”
Osbornes aren’t the only ones who are shifting their philanthropic focus to the issue of childhood literacy. Target Corp recently announced the 32 schools who will get their libraries completely refurbished this year as part of the company’s Target School Library Makeover program that has, in previous years, overhauled libraries at 118 other schools nationwide. As part of the program, new schools and those which had already benefited from a library makeover, will get donations of new books to expand and upgrade their collections.