It took a single e-mail request and less than 24 hours for Candlewick, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster to swing into action to get books and promotional materials (and, in the case of the last, an Olivia costume) to the Connecticut Parents Union for the children in Newtown, Ct., where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings had taken place on December 14. The books were loaded onto the CPU’s literacy bus, which in the wake of the tragedy was transformed into the All Aboard – Sandy Hook Coping and Caring Parent Express Bus, and made stops at nine cities before arriving at Newtown City Hall on Christmas Eve.
“We were so grateful to get the request [from CPU],” says Jennifer Roberts, executive director of marketing, publicity, and events for Candlewick. “We had been compiling books we felt might be able to be appreciated by this community at this time, so to have a direct line into Newtown and the neighboring communities was such a gift. I know we intend to participate in other donations, but truly it was so meaningful for Candlewick to be able to show our support before the holidays.” Candlewick selected Maya Soetoro-Ng’s Ladder to the Moon, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, to give out to children and families, and also provided a collection of other titles that would stay on the bus.
Michelle Fadlalla, director of marketing, education, and library at Simon & Schuster, was also pleased to be contacted. “Like so many people in the country,” she says, “you’re just feeling so helpless. You want to do something.” The same was true for Simon & Schuster’s warehouse staff. “Usually a large donation like this takes a couple of days,” she says. “When we contacted the warehouse, everyone there said, ‘We’ll do it.’ Everyone wanted to help.” Simon & Schuster donated 400 books – a variety of classics and favorites, including Henry and Mudge, Bunnicula, and Olivia, as well as Dork Diaries posters and other materials.
“At Scholastic, we believe that ensuring children have access to books and inspiring stories is an important part of responding to any disaster or trauma,” says Kyle Good, senior v-p of corporate communications. She selected five children’s books available in the Scholastic warehouse through its book clubs and book fairs to take home: Skippyjon Jones Up & Down, Race Car Driver, Hide & Seek Colors, How Do I Love You, and Igraine the Brave. They also sent a group of read-alouds: Hope Is an Open Heart, The Dot, and America the Beautiful. “Reading and great stories can help children find comfort and build resilience in the face of difficulty,” she says. “We also want children to resume their education as quickly as possible, and reading good books is a great way to ease back into the routines of school life.”