NEW YORK, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU), New York's Hometown Airline™, today announces its third-annual Soar with Reading program, an award-winning summer literacy initiative that places age-appropriate books in the hands of children in underserved areas. The JetBlue initiative officially launches today in partnership with Random House Children's Books and Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne, with the debut of a new website, jetblue.com/SoarWithReading, which offers free downloadable resources for families including Magic Tree House Soar with Reading Passport Activity Booklets, games, interactive reading lists, expert advice for keeping kids engaged in reading all summer long, and more. Passport booklets filled with activities will also be distributed at JetBlue terminals across the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean from June through August to encourage summer reading. Since 2011, JetBlue has donated more than $250,000 worth of books to children in need.
This year JetBlue welcomes new program partners Random House Children's Books and bestselling author Mary Pope Osborne, known for her award-winning Magic Tree House series featuring the adventures of brother-sister duo Jack and Annie. "Mary Pope Osborne and Random House Children's Books are the perfect partners to help achieve our mission of encouraging kids to let their imaginations come alive," said Icema Gibbs, director of corporate social responsibility at JetBlue Airways. "With 33 percent of fourth graders only reading at or below grade level, access to books is vital. The Soar with Reading program will provide deserving children with books throughout the summer to help maintain the knowledge base that was built during the school year."
The Soar with Reading website provides an opportunity for children, along with a parent, to create and share an adventure by answering the question, "What magical places would you like to travel to with
"Over the years, I have seen the positive impact that reading and access to books can have on a child's life," said Osborne. "I am delighted to be part of a campaign and partnership that so perfectly aligns with my mission to reach underserved children across the country with the most magical gift you can give—books."
On June 12, JetBlue will kick off the program in the airline's hometown of New York with a special book reading event for 900 local second to fifth grade students. Taking place at the 92nd Street Y community and cultural center in Manhattan, author Mary Pope Osborne will delight children in attendance with the adventures of characters Jack and Annie from her Magic Tree House series. A live Passport to Adventure performance with the beloved Jack and Annie characters will also take place. The audience on June 12 will feature students served by 92nd Street Y's Educational Outreach program, which reintroduces the arts into the core curriculum of New York City public schools.
"We are thrilled to be working in partnership with JetBlue on the Soar with Reading campaign with Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House books as the focus this year," said Barbara Marcus, president and publisher at Random House Children's Books. "Soar with Reading is a fantastic program and a wonderful extension of each of our shared commitments to getting books into the hands of kids that need them."
Research cited in The Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2 (The Guilford Press) reveals a large deficit in the U.S. in children's access to age-appropriate books in low-income neighborhoods, where there is one book for every 300 children, compared to 13 such books per child in middle-income neighborhoods.
"Our goal with the Soar with Reading program is to combat this imbalance. This reading campaign continues to inspire children to get excited about reading during summer break when students can lose more than two months of reading development," explained Gibbs. "We initiated this program two years ago and remain committed to the effort because we know that children and education are a top priority for our customers and crewmembers."
Additional reading events with Mary Pope Osborne and characters Jack and Annie will take place in other JetBlue cities, including Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and San Juan throughout the summer. Children in attendance at each reading event will take home a copy of Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne to help keep them reading and their imaginations soaring. Visit jetblue.com/SoarwithReading for more information.
ABOUT RANDOM HOUSE CHILDREN'S BOOKS Random House Children's Books is the world's largest English-language children's trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, ebooks, and apps, the imprints of Random House Children's Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company's website, Kids @ Random (www.randomhousekids.com) offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children's Books is a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann, a leading international media company.
ABOUT MAGIC TREE HOUSE® Widely regarded among parents, teachers, and librarians for its power to instill a passion for reading, Mary Pope Osborne's award-winning Magic Tree House series is an international phenomenon and has sold more than 110 million books worldwide since its debut in 1992, and has been translated into 32 different languages in over 30 international markets. There are currently 50 Magic Tree House books and 27 Fact Trackers, the nonfiction companions to the fiction titles. All Magic Tree House books are available in print, as ebooks and Listening Library audio books, which are all narrated by Mary Pope Osborne. Visit www.MagicTreeHouse.com for more information about the series, activities, and more.
ABOUT THE MAGIC TREE HOUSE CLASSROOM ADVENTURES PROGRAM The Magic Tree House Classroom Adventures Program is a free, comprehensive set of online educational resources for teachers developed by Mary Pope Osborne as gift to teachers, to thank them for their enthusiastic support of the series. Complete with lesson plans, curriculum guides, and creative activities, the Classroom Adventures Program incorporates every book in the series, including the nonfiction Fact Tracker titles, enabling teachers to build upon students' interest in Jack and Annie's adventures, while simultaneously meeting core curriculum standards across a multitude of subjects. Educators can learn more at http://mthclassroomadventures.org/.
ABOUT MARY POPE OSBORNE An ardent advocate and supporter of children's literacy, Mary Pope Osborne is the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including novels, retellings of mythology and folklore, picture books, biographies, and mysteries. From 1993–1997, Ms. Osborne served as president of the Authors Guild, the country's leading organization for published authors. She has traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, visiting schools and speaking on issues related to children's literacy. She recently spoke at the UN regarding the importance of worldwide literacy and was profiled on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams for her continued efforts. Mary has donated over 250,000 books to children in need through her Gift of Books program. She resides in Connecticut. The creator of the Magic Tree House series, Ms. Osborne is also the coauthor of the companion Magic Tree House Fact Trackers series with her husband, Will Osborne, and her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce.
ABOUT JETBLUE AIRWAYS JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline™ with other focus cities in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Juan, and Orlando. Known for its award-winning service and free inflight entertainment as much as its low fares, JetBlue offers the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline (based on average fleetwide seat pitch) as well as superspacious Even More Space seats. JetBlue is also America's first and only airline to offer its own Customer Bill of Rights, with meaningful and specific compensation for customers inconvenienced by service disruptions within JetBlue's control. Visit www.jetblue.com/promise for details. JetBlue serves 78 cities with 800 daily flights and plans to launch service to Worcester, Massachusetts, and Medellin, Colombia, in 2013 as well as Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Lima, Peru, subject to receipt of government operating authority. With JetBlue, all seats are assigned, all fares are one-way, and an overnight stay is never required. For information, call 1-800-538-2583 (TTY/TDD 1-800-336-5530), or visit www.jetblue.com.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR RECEIVE A PRIZE. Sweepstakes begins at 12:00:01 a.m. ET on June 11, 2013, and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on August 31, 2013. To enter Sweepstakes and obtain complete Official Rules, go to: www.jetblue.com/Soarwithreading.com. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 years or older at the time of entry. (4) Grand Prizes valued at $5,000 each, (10) First Prizes valued at $598 each and (20) Second Prizes valued at $140 each will be awarded. Grand Prizes to be awarded as a $5,000 deposit into a State 529 college savings plan account of Winner's choice. Total approximate retail value for all prizes to be awarded: $28,780. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Void in Puerto Rico, outside the U.S. and where prohibited and restricted by law. Sweepstakes subject to complete Official Rules. Sponsor: JetBlue Airways, 27-01 Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, NY 11101.
Through Soar with Reading, JetBlue and Random House Children's Books will donate one (1) book valued at $5 per Sweepstakes entry to the Mary Pope Osborne's Classroom Adventures Program between June 11, 2013, and August 31, 2013. A maximum of $500,000 worth of books will be donated. Offer void where prohibited or restricted. Donation is not tax deductible to the consumer.
SOURCE JetBlue Airways