October 17, 2016 TLM Instrumental in the donation of 38,000 books to Trenton 2nd graders and teachers (see article below)
‘Magic Tree House’ Author Donates Books to All Trenton 2nd Graders
THE TRENTONIAN, October 17, 2016
Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series, talked to Trenton teachers in the Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Pope Osborne has agreed to donate 38,800 Magic Tree House books to Trenton second grade students to improve literacy in the district. DAVID FOSTER — THE TRENTONIAN
TRENTON Mary Pope Osborne recalled a letter she received from a student before writing her widely popular “Magic Tree House” series.
A Bronx student had asked the author if she could send her a book that Osborne had written and shown her class.
“I probably couldn’t do that because then I’d have to give one to everyone in the classroom,” Osborne responded to the girl, noting it still pains her today to think about it.
Despite the rejection, the student sent another letter telling Osborne to send a book to her house and promised not to tell her fellow students. Osborne ultimately budged and sent the girl a book.
“I only wish at that time that I’d be able to send a book to every child in the classroom,” Osborne said Monday at the Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School to an audience full of Trenton teachers. ‘Well now, with the tremendous success of ‘Magic Tree House,’ and we’ve been so blessed by that success. Finally, we can do that through our classroom program.”
Osborne was in Trenton on Monday after agreeing to donate 32 “Magic Tree House” books to every Trenton second grader.
Half of the books were given to the 1,000-plus students last week with the remaining amount to be distributed in May 2017.
“I’m hoping that the second graders of Trenton have a chance to travel with Jack and Annie in ‘Magic Tree House,’” Osborne said of her books’ main characters. “This is the time of dinosaurs and ancient Egypt and Camelot and the moon. We hope they’ll go to a World Cup soccer game in Mexico City and visit a Mayan princess and a Lakota boy. We hope they’ll ride the night with unicorns and flying lions and magic carpets, and meet Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Louis Armstrong and Jackie Robinson. We hope they’ll help people survive a 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and a tsunami in Hawaii, and we hope they’ll turn into dogs and seals and sprout wings and fly like birds.”
Most importantly, the author of the series that has sold more than 135 million books worldwide hopes that Trenton students “fall in love with reading.” And in low-income areas like Trenton — where there is one book for every 300 children — it is crucial, the author said.
Citing statistics, Osborne said students who do not read at grade level by third grade are likely never to catch up; students who don’t read by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school; and high school dropouts are nearly four more times likely to wind up in prison than high school graduates.
Furthermore, 85 percent of juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate as are 60 percent of all prison inmates, she said.
“Inmates have only a 16 percent chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help as opposed to 70 percent for those who have no help,” Osborne said. “This is the school-to-prison pipeline that the Trenton Literacy Movement is so moved by and wants to help change this community.”
The award-winning author said she met with some members of the Trenton Literacy Movement (TLM), a group formed out of the Trenton NAACP, after an event in New York City recently. TLM sponsored the use of Lexia technology to help Trenton children learn to read, which intrigued Osborne, and her sister and husband, who also both work on the “Magic Tree House” series.
“The three of us wondered if the program could be enhanced if actual books were put in the hands of children after they started working on their reading skills with Lexia — books filled with imaginative adventures as well as factual knowledge about the world,” Osborne said.
By the response of children receiving their books last week, it appears to already be having an impact.
“You should have seen the look of the kids’ faces when they received those books,” interim Superintendent Lucy Feria said. “They’re going to be hooked on reading.’
In a light moment during Wednesday’s event, the author who is working on her 57th “Magic Tree House” book, quoted some letters she has received from children throughout the years, which drew much laughter from the teachers. The notable lines from the letters included:
“Your books are the best in the whole entire world. You are a star. You are a genius of tomorrow.”
“I like your books because they almost make me smart.”
“If you keep making these books, I will keep reading them. I hope this inspires you to be a better writer.”
“I’m maybe interested in reading your books. Our classroom has all of your books. I haven’t read any of them yet, but maybe I will. I’m your biggest fan.”
“If you get stuck while writing your books, write me and tell me what you’re stuck on and I might write back with your new ideas.