Grammy-winning singer/musician/producer Pharrell Williams’s monster hit “Happy” has had people clapping, singing, and dancing along since it hit the charts in 2013, featured on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, and Williams’s album Girl. Now fans will have the chance to experience Happy! (Penguin, Oct.) the picture book, and channel the title’s joyful vibe into book donations that benefit children in need, thanks to a partnership between Penguin Young Readers and literacy organization First Book. On October 6 – the book’s release date – Williams, Penguin Young Readers president Don Weisberg, and president and CEO of First Book Kyle Zimmer will kick off the #ReadHappy campaign during an event at the Brooklyn Public Library that is set to include a reading and book signing by the author.
The nationwide social media effort is designed to encourage people to share—in images or words—how reading makes them happy. Beginning October 6, each post on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram using the #ReadHAPPY hashtag will trigger a donation from Penguin Young Readers to First Book (up to 50,000 books, a mix comprised of Happy! and other titles). According to Shanta Newlin, executive director of publicity for Penguin Young Readers, “Pharrell and his team challenged us to come up with a marketing campaign unlike any we’ve done before.” From the inception of the project, she notes, “Pharrell has been focused on sharing the joy of reading with young people, and we felt it would be a natural fit to create a #ReadHAPPY campaign in support of First Book, an organization that has children’s literacy at the heart of their mission.”
In a statement, Williams offered his thoughts on the #ReadHAPPY push. “Every child on this planet deserves to experience the joy of reading,” he said. “I’m grateful to Penguin and First Book for the opportunity to work on such an amazing philanthropic initiative.” Once Happy! is out of the gate, Williams will make national TV appearances on Today, Access Hollywood, and the Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss the book. On October 10, he will be doing a book signing at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles, and on December 5, will join bestselling fellow Penguin authors B.J. Novak (The Book with No Pictures) and Drew Daywalt (The Day the Crayons Quit) for a group signing, also in L.A.
Happy! spotlights photos of children from around the globe expressing and celebrating what happiness means to them. The title boasts a first printing of 250,000 copies and is the first release under a four-picture-book deal the author signed with Penguin Young Readers earlier this year.