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Published on : Thursday, July 9, 2015
JetBlue Airways’ award-winning Soar with Reading program is taking off for the fifth consecutive summer, placing age appropriate books into the hands of children in need. Encouraging imaginations to take flight through reading, this year’s initiative includes an online #BookBattle which encourages the public to join in the fun at and pick which community should receive 100,000 new children’s books.
In honor of the fifth anniversary of the Soar with Reading summer reading initiative JetBlue has selected five cities to battle for these books — Detroit, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and New York City. The city with the most online votes will win. Online voting is open through August 31, 2015 and books will be donated in 2016.
New Pilot Program
To quench one of the biggest book deserts, JetBlue has also launched a pilot program as an extension of this year’s Soar with Reading initiative. In an effort to make an immediate impact, JetBlue today revealed book vending machines in Washington, D.C. to provide children in the Southeast neighborhood with free access to books. Washington, D.C. was chosen to launch this program after a study commissioned by JetBlue found that the Anacostia section of D.C. is a large book desert, leaving residents little or no access to purchase age-appropriate children’s books.
“Innovative solutions that involve and engage the community is necessary to combat the current summer slump that happens especially in underserved communities,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility.
JetBlue’s book vending machines are placed in select locations in the community and allow children to receive books, free of cost. Parents can opt-in to a SMS campaign to receive reading tips, updates when new books are restocked into the vending machines and to learn about reading events throughout the summer.
“As we celebrate our fifth year of Soar with Reading, we decided to conduct more research and devise a plan to make an even greater impact. Learning that communities right in our own backyard are in such dire need of books, we convened an advisory board, enlisting the help of top education experts to help us develop a strategy to combat this growing imbalance,” said Gibbs. “Not only do we want to combat these book deserts, but also show that there is a demand to purchase books in underserved areas. These communities want options similar to other neighborhoods.”
To emphasize the importance of reading during the summer months, Soar with Reading will host a number of regional events with bestselling Magic Tree House® author Mary Pope Osborne. This year’s program highlights Osborne’s new book, Magic Tree House #53: Shadow of the Shark and the corresponding non-fiction companion, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #32: Sharks and Other Predators. Three interactive reading events will be held at local aquariums in three cities — New York City, Long Beach, Calif., and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.Each event will feature book giveaways, live readings, and kid-friendly activities.
Mary Pope Osborne is an ardent advocate and supporter of child literacy, and the award-winning author of more than 100 books, including the internationally bestselling Magic Tree House books, which is the official partner of JetBlue’s Soar with Reading program.
“I’m so pleased to see the Soar with Reading program continue year after year, and for Magic Tree House to be part of the ever critical mission to encourage reading and children’s literacy efforts nationwide,” said Mary Pope Osborne.
Returning for the second consecutive year as a Soar with Reading ambassador, actress and singer-songwriter Victoria Justice will help to generate awareness for the initiatives through social media engagement, videos and an appearance at the New York event. Justice, who turns to reading as an escape from her hectic schedule, will encourage her fans and followers take time to read, as well as vote in the national #BookBattle to help provide books to others.
Since 2011, Soar with Reading has donated over $1,250,000 worth of books to kids in need. The program website and mobile app provide the latest #BookBattle and event updates, as well as features new activities and games, resources for families, reading recommendations and more.