February 6th was the first annual Disney Reads Day, marking the company’s 50 millionth book donation. From the morning to afternoon, Disney Stores ran events that promoted reading and a love of books. Stores all across the United States participated in the event but two locations, California’s Glendale Galleria (home of the first Disney Store) and New York’s Times Square, hosted some very special guests. Let’s take a look at what took place over at the Glendale Galleria:
The special readers would sit in this chair in the main activity/stage area of the store. The pile of books served as a nice eye-catcher. I believe all of the stories read came from that pile.
The first special guest was Katherine McNamara of the TV series, Shadowhunters. Katherine read “Aladdin: The Desert Race” from Disney Princess: 5-Minute Princess Stories. She spoke to a large audience of both children and adults.
After every story, Cast Members came out with a box of goodies for the children in the audience. They passed out bookmarks promoting the upcoming film, The BFG, as well as an activity sheet. An extra-special feature of the activity page was that on the back was information for the parents about Disney Story Central, a website and iDevice app containing a library of kid-friendly stories starring beloved Disney characters. Along with information, a code was included that unlocked unlimited access on Disney Reads Day.
Next up was Coleen Sullivan, news anchor and reporter for KABC-TV Eyewitness News. She had her young son in the audience and prior to reading, asked him to pick the story. I thought that was cute. The chosen story was “Spider-Man: It’s Electric” from 5-Minute Spider-Man Stories: The Super Villains. Coleen did an excellent job of interacting with the children, asking them questions and making sure they could see the pictures.
The following special reader was Trinitee Stokes from the Disney Channel’s K.C. Undercover. Trinitee arrived dressed as Elsa and looked really excited to be there. She read “The Princess and The Frog: A Surprise Guest,” a story from the same book as Katherine’s. Trinitee was animated and engaging during her reading. After her time was over, several guests asked to take photos with her, which she obliged.
At one point between readers, the Cast Members sat with the children waiting for the next story. They asked questions, like what their favorite story was.
The final guest star was Girl Meets World’s August Maturo. Not surprisingly, given the popularity of his show and character, 90 percent of the audience were girls. August read the book, Monsters University. It was an impressive choice; definitely the most challenging and longest of the stories read. Like Coleen, August made comments to the audience and made sure to show the pictures.
Disney Reads Day was not only a wonderful event that hopefully encouraged the kids present to enjoy reading but it also was the beginning of something bigger. It was the starting point for Disney and ABC’s “Magic of Storytelling” Campaign, lasting the following four weeks. The campaign will include events and promotions at participating retailers and community organizations. Here’s to a lifetime of exploring the worlds within books!