Polar Express Ride for Reading Delivers First Book to Children

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The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott Medal-winning children's book, will hit the big screen this November 10 in an animated adaptation from Warner Bros., starring Tom Hanks. And now, booksellers can not only benefit from the landslide of publicity the film release is expected to generate, but also help support a worthy cause. Polar Express Ride for Reading is a promotion, developed by the book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin, and Book Sense exclusively for independent bookstores with Book Sense, that offers booksellers the opportunity to participate in a fundraising effort to support First Book, a children's literacy organization.

First Book is a national nonprofit organization with the single mission of giving children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. First Book provides books to children in literacy programs and housing project initiatives, in shelters and other community-based efforts reaching children living at or below the poverty line. In the last three years alone, First Book has provided more than 20 million new books to children in need in hundreds of communities nationwide.

"First Book is honored to be a part of the release of The Polar Express, a story that has been a magical part of the holidays for many years," said Kyle Zimmer, First Book's president. "In partnership with Book Sense, First Book will spark the imagination of children in communities across the country. We are so grateful to be a part of this celebration."

Materials for the Polar Express Ride for Reading are in the September Red Box mailing. Included are a poster to announce the fundraising effort and 200 boxcars for donors to post on the bookstore's walls. Donations will be collected for a period that each individual store will set, but it is suggested that the fundraising effort culminate with a party that takes places sometime between October 15 and November 10. A Polar Express party kit is also included.

Booksellers may also choose to raise money for a different literacy group of their choice. Questions about this promotion should be addressed to Associate Director of Book Sense Marketing Meg Smith at [email protected]. Questions about First Book should be directed to Social Enterprise Fellow Rachel Einschlag at [email protected] or (202) 393-1222.

One participating Book Sense store will receive a Polar Express Prize Package put together by Houghton Mifflin, which includes movie passes, a signed Chris Van Allsburg library, and a signed movie poster. Details and an entry form can be found in Polar Express folder in the Red Box.