We’re joining McDonald’s to kick the year off with books! From January 9-22, McDonald’s will offer one of four favorite children’s books in every Happy Meal for over 17 million books for children and families across the country. Through a new collaboration with HarperCollins Children’s Books, kids and families will be able to enjoy four classic titles. Each book comes with a fun activity designed just for this special promotion.
On top of that, McDonald’s is giving 100,000 Happy Meal books to bring the joy of reading to kids in RIF programs that don’t have easy access to books. We’re feeling pretty happy about that!
Even lunchtime can become a fun learning opportunity for young children. Our President and CEO, Carol H. Rasco explained, “we need to reach families where they are,” and McDonald’s is a comfortable atmosphere for many families. “Parents are there to talk and laugh and have fun with their children,” and this month they can do so with some our of favorite children’s books.
Here are the books that will be in Happy Meals nationwide this month:
While many of us are caught up in closing out the year, I was recently impressed by a boy who’s already looking forward to the next one. A few weeks ago, Sebastian contacted us with an idea. In January, he’ll turn six. “This year, instead of getting birthday presents,” he told us, “I want to help other kids read.”
Sebastian’s an avid reader, currently hooked on the Magic Tree House adventure series, and he wants to help us give books to the kids who need them most. He may only be five going on six, but he loves reading and knows the joy it will bring to children just like him.
For me, Sebastian’s birthday wish was a reminder that each of us has the power to make a difference. Please join me and Sebastian this holiday season by supporting RIF’s work to get books to more kids who need them.
The RIF office is full of holiday spirit as we’re all enjoying this time of giving thanks and giving back. One thing we’re especially thankful for this holiday season? Our 10-year partnership with Kappa Kappa Gamma and their tireless work to give the gift of reading to children in need nationwide. In 2014 alone, Kappas donated more than $83,000 to RIF, putting more than 33,000 books into the hands of children who otherwise would not have a book to call their own. These Kappa women support the RIF mission through countless local efforts to inspire children and raise funds for new books.
A few months ago, the Kappa chapter at the University of Iowa got wind of our recently launched Kappa-inspired resources — featuring books and activities centered around Kappa themes like friendship and community service, and featuring Kappa symbols like the owl — and sprang into action, ordering titles for the children they’d be serving at their upcoming Reading Is Key event.
Last month, they hosted a wonderful literacy celebration at the Melrose Daycare in Iowa City where their members spent time with children sharing the importance of reading and encouraging family reading time at home. In small groups, the Kappas and children read some of the great RIF books they brought with them. The best part? Each child got to take a RIF book home to own and keep! The chapter fundraised for the initiative through their Kappa Kones event earlier in the year, which featured free ice cream, face painting, and balloons for Iowa City children, with all donation proceeds going to the purchase of RIF books.
Also a roaring success, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma recently held their first ever Holiday Marketplace with proceeds to benefit RIF. With over 15 vendors and a raffle for door prizes, they had a great turnout for this festive afternoon and raised enough money to help us provide more than 430 books to children in need! On tap next for this group is their February Reading Is Key event where they’ll continue their efforts to spread the love of reading to underserved children in their community.
We are so thankful for great partners in our literacy mission and appreciate our Kappa friends near and far for all of the wonderful ways they support RIF! Join Kappas across the country in supporting RIF this holiday season. When you make a gift to RIF by December 31, you donation will be matched up to $115,000.
A recent survey found that only one in three parents reads bedtime stories with their children every night. This figure was astonishing to me, not only as the president and CEO of the largest children’s literacy nonprofit, but also as a mother and grandmother who has built enduring family traditions around books.
Every December, my daughter sets up her family Christmas tree and the first items placed underneath it are dozens of holiday books acquired starting in her childhood. Each story holds memories from every year we’ve celebrated together, and the collection continues to grow as I add new books for my grandchildren under the tree. And following the additional tradition of my grandparents and parents, each child in my family receives at least one book every Christmas, one chosen oh so carefully for the recipient.
While I love customs of all kinds, I also know that the reality for too many children is that book traditions like ours remain out of reach. Research shows that literacy among our nation’s youngest readers is strikingly low. The fact is, many families in poverty have no books in their homes at all.
But we can change that. At RIF, every day we are working to bring books and high-quality literacy support to the children who need it most. We go through thousands of children’s books every year to find the ones that will be the most engaging and educational for young children. Then we make sure they’re reaching the children who most need the kinds of materials that will not only build their basic skills, but motivate them to dream beyond what they’ve seen and write their own best futures. Since 1966, we’ve given over 412 million books to more than 40 million children, and with your help we will continue to inspire the next generation of readers.
You can start your own family traditions by passing down holiday-themed books that represent your culture and others, or simply by giving books to those in need. Encourage kids to put down their video game controllers and TV remotes down for an evening in favor of a family read-aloud. For me, there is nothing more sentimental than seeing my grandson flip through the pages of a book that I once held in my hands and passed down to his mother.
Three books in particular have become a beloved part of my tradition, and reading these stories is a fun and meaningful experience for me and my grandchildren every year.
Every child deserves memorable reading experiences and books to cherish as they grow up. I hope that this holiday season, and throughout the New Year, we will be able to reach even more children so more families can enjoy reading together. Help us make that possible. Make books – and spreading the joy of reading – part of your family tradition.
We’re delighted to feature R. Gregory Christie’s “Polar Connection” on our 2014 holiday card. Christie has been working as an illustrator for over 20 years, and has collaborated with clients like The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times… and now RIF! He is a two time recipient of New York Times’ 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, and a three time winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, among others. Two of Christie’s beautiful books, It Jes’ Happened by Don Tate and Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom by Steven Sellers Lapham and Eugene Walton, have been featured in our 2013 Multicultural Book Collection.
Well, Greg’s holiday polar bear art reading got us thinking: let’s read about polar bears! Here are some of our favorites:
Simplify your holiday shopping by focusing on the gifts that stay with us: curiosity, imagination, the joy of reading. For the book lover on your list, for your child’s favorite teacher, for the grandparent that brought you books and taught you to love reading, a gift to RIF in their honor will help give books to the children who need them most.
Every book contains a world that can be a place for exploration and for comfort. Help us open up new worlds to children across the country, and get them ready for greater adventures in the year to come.
The joy of reading is a gift that never gets old. This season, spread the holiday spirit by giving a gift in honor of a friend or family member. When you give before December 31, your gift will be matched up to $115,000 for double the cheer.
Thanks to all of you Book People, we’re happy to conclude another successful year, and gear up for our next one! By putting nearly 2 million books into the hands of the children who need them most, this year we’ve given more kids the keys to unlocking their brightest futures.
Innovative Approaches: We have just now concluded the post-testing on a two-year research study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to improve literacy in high-need school districts by boosting children’s reading achievement over the summer. Through the study, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics through children’s literature, we’ve given over 760,000 books for impact to 33,000 second-, third-, and fourth-grade students in 173 schools across 16 states. And we’re collecting inspiring stories from teachers and students who are finding even more creative ways to use our books and literacy resources, from farming fun in Kentucky to beach bumming with books in North Carolina. We can’t wait to share even more stories and findings from our research in the coming year!
Power Partner: 2014 marked the 11th year of our partnership with Macy’s and our summer Be Book Smart campaign. Over the past 11 years, Macy’s customers and associates have contributed more than 10 million books for children in need, and this summer alone raised $2.6 million to go toward books for children in underserved communities.
A Seuss-y Soiree: Thanks to our many friends and supporters, our 2014 THE CAT IN THE HAT gala raised more than $600,000 in unrestricted funds.
Book Basics: True to RIF’s roots, this year we continued our classic book distributions, in which children are given the chance to select the books of their choosing to read and to keep. Some highlights from this years’ events included ZooFiesta at the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, DC, where we gave away books and activities with State Farm; our visit to Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County, Maryland, serving military families; and the special students we met through the Boys and Girls Club in Dagsboro, Delaware.
Inspired Individuals: The hundreds of thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to organizing successful book distributions and finding new ways to get kids excited about reading are truly the backbone of RIF. This year, we honored three Volunteers of the Year, whose communities were thrilled to recognize their accomplishments. We were proud to see those same volunteers profiled as part of American Graduate Day, a broadcast highlighting how community organizations can keep kids on the path to graduation.
This year for the holidays, invite some classic characters into your home. Have the kids in your life met Mr. Tumnus, who grows so tired of Narnia’s everlasting winter? Have you warned them about the Cat in the Hat’s penchant for pink snow? Here are our picks for embracing winter with books:
For #GivingTuesday, give back with books. Join us in bringing the joy of reading to the children who need it most.