I love writers! Not only are many authors generous with advice and support, they are also generous with their books. There’s nothing like sharing something you’ve written that you feel proud of — it’s akin to giving someone a piece of yourself. At least that’s how I feel about giving out copies of my book, Birthing the Elephant.
Consider, then, how absolutely fabulous Mary Page Osborne must feel:
Mary was shocked when she read a report by Newark Kids Count. It found that under 40% of Newark’s third graders in public schools had passed the state’s third-grade language arts test in 2010 (the state average: 60%). Studies show that a child who can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade is four times more likely to drop out of high school than a child who can read. And a high school dropout is nearly four times more like to end up in prison than a high-school grad: two-thirds of America’s prison inmates are high-school dropouts.
“If a child is not reading proficiently by third grade, that child will struggle for years to catch up. Third grade is when children must start reading to learn rather than learning to read,” notes Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Mary Page Osborne decided to take action. As author of the Magic Tree House series for kids, Mary worked with First Book and several other groups to donate a mini-library of her series to every third grader in the Newark Public School District, including charter schools. A total of 4,300 hundred students each received a boxed set of 28 titles — that’s 120,000 books. What’s more, every third-grade teacher received a classroom set as well. What a fantastically generous gift!
Says Mary: “My hope is that, by actually owning his or her personal set of books, each child will be inspired to ‘crack the code’ that leads to the wondrous adventure of reading.” Bravo Mary — and write on!