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Read Across America: A Guest Post from Sarah Fried

April 15, 2011

I work as the assistant to Joan Demayo, Senior Vice President of Children’s Sales, and Kelley Baxter, Vice President Director of Children’s Business Development at Random House Children’s Books.

 My older sister Holly and I are lucky that our jobs overlap. She is a 3rd grade teacher at a public school in New Jersey, close to where we grew up. Holly asked if I would like to come in to speak to her students about Read Across America and teach them about publishing, and I jumped at the chance! With a bag full of goodies our Marketing and Publicity departments generously supplied me with, I hopped on NJ Transit and headed to New Jersey.

 I walked into my sister’s classroom and saw 20 children’s faces quietly staring at me.  As we sat down on the reading carpet, they began to open up as we talked about books and reading. When I asked them if they knew what I did, they enthusiastically responded that I published books. I said yes, I work at a major publishing house where we sell many books. As I began to explain the steps a book goes through before it appears in the stores, using a Magic Tree House book as the example, the kids were fascinated. They asked great questions, such as “How much do you sell the books for to the stores?”, and “How do you get your books?” I was impressed at the intelligent questions these students were asking-these were some of the same questions I asked when I began to work in publishing!

 I asked the students what they liked to read, and the kids enthusiastically called out, among several other titles, The Magic Tree House series, Judy Blume books, and A to Z Mysteries. I shared with them my childhood favorites: The Babysitters Club series, Judy Blume, and the Boxcar Children series. They loved to hear about what my sister and I read when we were growing up.

 I asked the kids if they knew what Read Across America was all about. They all yelled out in different ways that it was to get kids to read more. We talked about Dr. Seuss’ life, his many books, and then I read from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. The kids had so many questions about Dr. Seuss, that they went home with self-made assignments to look up more facts about Seuss. I had hoped to show them an episode of “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!”, but the students were so curious about Seuss and book publishing that we didn’t even have time! They loved the paper Seuss hats, as well as the Read Across America bookmarks and pins. Some of the other comments I received from the kids in the class were, “Wow! I didn’t know the author didn’t make the picture for the cover,” “Dr. Seuss is my favorite author! I love this book!” and “I never knew how long it took to get a book published!”

 When I left my sister’s classroom, I was encouraged. Even in the age of computers, the Internet, video games, cell phones, and so many other distractions, kids still LOVE to read and are genuinely EXCITED about it!

* photo of the Target RAA installation at the New York Public Library

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellie Kesselman permalink
    April 15, 2011 10:06 am

    Wow!! Being an guidance counselor, I know how important reading is during these important developmental years. Kudos to Sarah Fried for taking her own time to do this! Random House is lucky to have her!!
    Ellie Kesselman

  2. Deanna permalink
    April 15, 2011 11:35 am

    Great post, Sarah! So encouraging. Wish my 3rd grader were that enthusiastic. 🙂

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