Random House Children's Books And Magic Tree House® Author And Child Literacy Advocate Mary Pope Osborne Launch Magic Tree House® Reading Buddies Week

Nearly 1,000 schools, libraries, and bookstores nationwide signed up to watch Osborne's live-streamed event in New York City at the 92nd Street Y on Friday, October 11.

"Reading is the basic springboard for learning. And books provide the liftoff. They are the great equalizer, opening up new worlds to everyone." - Mary Pope Osborne

Oct 09, 2013, 14:35 ET from Random House Children's Books

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mary Pope Osborne (@MaryPopeOsborne), ardent advocate and supporter of children's literacy and bestselling author, will kick off the first annual Magic Tree House Reading Buddies Week (#readingbuddies) in New York City on Friday, October 11, at the 92nd Street Y. This was announced today by Mallory Loehr, Vice President, Publishing Director of the Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group. Reading Buddies Week (10/12–10/19) is a celebration of reading based on the tried-and-true model that pairs a younger reader with an older, more experienced reader, with the intention of fostering a love of reading.

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"I'm thrilled to kick off the first annual Magic Tree House Reading Buddies Week," says Osborne. "Not only does the buddy reading model help support children's reading efforts, but it also helps them gain self-confidence and a mentor to encourage their reading development."

The kickoff event in New York City on October 11 will be live-streamed to nearly 1,000 schools, libraries, and bookstores nationwide. Headlining the event is a talk by Mary Pope Osborne, a live performance by the Magic Tree House Jack and Annie characters, and the debut of a new Reading Buddies song. The audience will include students served by the 92nd Street Y's Educational Outreach program, which reintroduces the arts into the core curriculum of New York City public schools. Children attending the kickoff event will take home a copy of Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark.

Reading Buddies teams across the country can sign up for the program at MagicTreeHouse.com, beginning on Friday, 10/11. The Reading Buddies program features a Reading Buddy Minutes Challenge and an interactive reading log that unlocks digital prizes as children achieve their reading milestones. Kids who sign up during Reading Buddies Week will also unlock an exclusive activity kit. Teams can continue to enter their reading hours and unlock digital prizes as they achieve milestones throughout the year. To support this year's program, Random House has made an event kit available for schools, libraries, and bookstores, which includes a Reading Buddies bookmark, reproducible activities, and educational material on the benefits of the Reading Buddies model. Activities, reading logs, and more will be available on the Reading Buddies website, accessible through MagicTreeHouse.com.

Random House Children's Books will donate one book to Mary Pope Osborne's Classroom Adventures Program, to be distributed to Title I–eligible schools nationwide through First Book, for the first 5,000 Reading Buddies teams that sign up during Reading Buddies Week (kickoff 10/11 through 10/19).

For over 20 years, Mary has interacted with millions of Magic Tree House readers in schools, bookstores, and libraries, and via the abundance of fan mail she receives. She sees — firsthand and often — the impact that books can have on a child's life. A few years ago, Mary was shocked to read the alarming statistic that a child who cannot 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 well at that age. As a result, Osborne made it her mission to combat this crisis and reach children across the country with what she believes to be the most magical gift you can give — books. In 2012, she launched the Classroom Adventures Program, which provides free online resources to elementary school teachers and is the springboard for her Gift of Books program, which puts books into the hands of underserved children across the country through First Book. She has since donated over 300,000 books and made several district-wide donations, including Newark, NJ; Orlando, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Portland, OR.

This past summer, Mary partnered with JetBlue airways for the third-annual Soar with Reading program, which will culminate this fall with a major donation by JetBlue to Mary Pope Osborne's Classroom Adventures Program. Books will be distributed to Title I–funded schools in the airline's major markets: NYC, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico. Soar with Reading is an award-winning summer literacy initiative that places age-appropriate books in the hands of children in underserved areas.

New Magic Tree House chapter books and titles in the companion nonfiction Fact Trackers series continue to delight young readers year after year. Magic Tree House #50: Hurry Up, Houdini and Magic Tricks from the Tree House both went on sale on July 23, 2013, and a full-color edition of the second book in the series, The Knight at Dawn, was released on September 24, 2013.

MARY POPE OSBORNE is an ardent advocate and supporter of children's literacy and 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 to 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 United Nations regarding the importance of worldwide literacy and was profiled in a feature by Meredith Vieira on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams for her efforts. Mary has donated over 300,000 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.

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 that has sold 120 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 as Listening Library audiobooks, which are all narrated by Mary Pope Osborne. Visit MagicTreeHouse.com for information about the series, activities, and more.

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 (randomhousekids.com), offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators.

The Magic Tree House Classroom Adventures Program is a free comprehensive set of online educational resources developed by Mary Pope Osborne as a 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 mthclassroomadventures.org.

SOURCE Random House Children's Books