Toys for Tots® Literacy Program Provides almost 500,000 Books to Title 1 Funded Schools Supported by The UPS Store® network!
The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, through the Toys for Tots Literacy Program supported by The UPS Store network, provided almost 500,000 books directly to schools receiving Title I funding. With the outstanding assistance of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA), administrators and teachers at Title I schools across the nation requested books for their students. These books were provided free to the schools due to charitable donations from The UPS Store network as well as the generosity of the American public.
There are 976 schools in 15 states currently receiving 492,839 books. These books primarily focus on subjects that provide children with the tools necessary to be successful throughout their lives. Books emphasizing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), as well as titles that provide both entertainment and enrichment, will be welcoming students back-to-school this year!
As background, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, with our long-time ally The UPS Store, Inc., launched the Toys for Tots Literacy Program in 2008, a year-round initiative to support less fortunate children across our nation’s communities. The program offers the nation’s most economically disadvantaged children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them direct access to books and educational resources that enhance their ability to read and communicate effectively. This program not only brings the joy of reading to these children, but also serves as an important tool in breaking the cycle of poverty. Since its inception, the generosity of the 5,000 The UPS Store locations and their communities have contributed over $7.5 million and assisted Toys for Tots in distributing over 44 million books.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity which was created at the behest of the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program began in 1947 in Los Angeles, and since it first National Campaign in 1948 has distributed more than 604 million toys, games, and books to 272 million children.
The UPS Store® locations are independently owned and operated by franchisees of The UPS Store, Inc. (although one or more may be company owned) in the USA and by its master licensee and its franchisees in Canada. Products, services, prices and hours of operation may vary by location.
Notable musician Lil Nas X has brought his signature style and voice straight to the page in his new entertaining alphabet picture book. C Is for Country follows a young cowboy and his sidekick, Panini the pony, as they use the ABCs to seek out adventure in wide-open pastures, embrace family, and celebrate individuality, all during a single day. The book features bold, bright illustrations from award-winning artist Theodore Taylor III which are sure to keep kids engaged.
“C Is for Country goes out to every amazing kid out there who sang along to ‘Old Town Road’ on repeat and helped change my life forever,” said Lil Nas X. “I hope this book inspires them and makes learning the alphabet a thousand times more fun. I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I can’t wait for the world to see it,” he continued.
Lil Nas X had a goal to promote individuality in his book so children everywhere are able to embrace who they are. The artist has never been one to shy away from his true self, releasing music that speaks to who he is and instantly creating hits. Soon after releasing the children’s book, it hit number eight across all kid’s books in the world Lil Nas X announced in a tweet.
“A is for adventure. Every day is a brand-new start!,” an excerpt from the book on the website says. “B is for boots—whether they’re big or small, short or tall. And C is for country.”
Earlier in the year, Lil Nas X appeared on Sesame Street’s, The Not-Too-Late Show to sing Elmo’s Song with Elmo himself. The artist also made an appearance at Lander Elementry School in 2019 to perform for the children there. These appearances have certainly helped him create a younger fan base and an audience for his new picture book. His hit song, “Old Town Road” ended up being a smashing success with the younger crowds as well. Recently, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has officially become 14x platinum and is now the most certified song in music history.
Lil Nas X has been embracing his younger fan base he isn’t necessarily self-conscious about it. “I’m well aware that life and careers and everything goes in chapters,” the rapper said in NPR. “That’s the chapter I’m in right now and I’m OK with that.” C Is for Country was made for kids ages three to seven and is sure to help little ones learn the alphabet.
Lil Nas X is not the first celebrity to check “write a children’s book” off of their bucket list. Madonna, a well-known star to all ages has written a number of books for kids. Her first book, The English Roses, became the biggest and fastest-selling children’s book by a first-time author. The book, which references Madonna’s personal experiences, features many moral life lessons and has been published in 42 languages. Madonna then went on to write eleven more books in this series which has now flourished into a book series that features 12 chapter books. Madonna lovers can even buy an audiobook version where Madonna reads all of the stories aloud.
Madonna has also written a number of other children’s books aside from The English Roses series including, Yakov and the Seven Thieves and The Adventures of Abdi. In her stories, Madonna not only references her childhood experiences while teaching life lessons, but she also promotes gender equality and uses her Jewish background to do so.
Another notable celebrity, Jamie Lee Curtis, has made her mark in the world of children’s books. She has written twelve bestselling children’s books including When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth, Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day and Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born. These books have been a great success in teaching kids important life lessons in a silly and entertaining way.
Curtis said that her daughter was her first inspiration for writing children’s books. “My four-year-old said something funny to me one day,” explains Jamie Lee Curtis. “She walked into my office, all petulant and sweet, and announced that ‘when I was little I used to wear diapers, but now I use the potty.'”
“The idea that she had thought about her life in the past,” Curtis continues, “when she was really just four, made me smile. I wrote on a piece of paper: ‘When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.’ I then wrote a list of things that she used to not be able to do and now could. By the end, I realized I had written a book.”
Although Lil Nas X didn’t grasp his inspiration from any one person in particular, his youthful spirit and young fanbase have certainly set him up to be a successful writer for children. It’s clear the young cowboy in the book is inspired by Lil Nas X complete with a bedazzled, pink cowboy outfit.
It’s not just actors and singers becoming authors, famous athletes such as LeBron James, Alex Morgan and Mia Hamm have also become authors. LeBron James’ book, I Promise, was recently published in August of 2020 and encourages children to strive for greatness. This book coincides with the I Promise School, a school powered by the LeBron James Family Foundation. This school helps students that are in danger of falling through the cracks to succeed. I Promise shares a common goal with this school in helping children strive to be the best they can be.
No matter which celebrity is behind writing the pages of these books, they all have one thing in common, they hope to promote positivity and important life lessons to all children that read them. Lil Nas X is no different when it comes to C Is for Country. When celebrities use their platform to write children’s books, they are using their fame to promote life lessons to kids. This is especially useful for an artist like Lil Nas X who already has a relatively young fan base.
C is for Country is available now for purchase and can be bought in hardcover, Kindle or audiobook version. If you know a child that has been blasting “Old Town Road” on repeat, then this book is sure to be a success.
Lil Nas X Rips His Pants During SNL Performance
Lil Nas Xripped his pants during a steamy performance of “Montero” on Saturday Night Live last night. Dressed in tight, leather flame pants, Lil Nas flamboyantly trapezed across the stage with his fiery dance moves. During part of his performance, he approached the stage’s stripper pole and began gyrating his hips. After he slides down the pole, Lil Nas X can be seen grabbing his crotch and staring with bewilderment into the camera.
However, the performer quickly regained his confidence and boldly belted the rest of “Montero” with his hand positioned over his crotch. Nas was quick make light of the situation on social media, posting a meme on Tiktok of his outfit blunder. Lil Nas X also reposted his performance on his Instagram with the caption, “a sign of the times every time that I speak.” One thing is for sure– this red-hot performer sure knows how to put on an entertaining performance.
When I was a small child, I never ate the vegetables I encountered on my dinner plate, preferring instead to kick, scream, whine, and then feed the offending dish to the dog. How different things might’ve been if former First Lady Michelle Obama was the one gently encouraging me to eat my peas, using Muppet-adjacent puppets and her soothing presence! Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way, but for the children of America who are now currently throwing handfuls of broccoli at their parents in protest, Obama’s new show, Waffles + Mochi, premiering on March 16 on Netflix, is here to save the day.
There’s little information about what this show will entail, beyond the above tweet, which features Michelle Obama cradling a small, winsome mochi in her hand, flanked on either side by an overzealous bee with glasses and some sort of Yeti-thing, whom I presume is Waffles, as it is wearing a scarf and a frozen waffle as an accessory. The show will be produced by Higher Ground, the Obamas’ production company. My assumption is that Waffles + Mochi is a reworked version of Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, which was reported in 2019 as the title of a half-hour children’s show that would “take young children and their families around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food.”
Again, we know very little about the show, because all we’re working with here is the former name and then the image of Michelle Obama flanked by Muppet-adjacent puppets, but what I’m hoping is that this culinary adventure will be a spiritual cousin to the earliest seasons of Sesame Street, which were quirky and weird and just as enjoyable to watch now, as an adult, as they were when I was a small child. Children’s television is at its best when it resonates with both children and adults who are lightly stoned.
SKOOG Inc., a media tech company with a mission to enrich children’s lives through creative and immersive play, today announced a global partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, introducing a new interactive platform that merges tactile technology with an ever-expanding content library featuring Sesame Street characters. The platform combines multi-sensory play with fun, interactive content and meaningful learning experiences.
Originally focused on helping children with disabilities express their creativity through music, the team at SKOOG created a suite of unique hands-on technology devices that children of all abilities can enjoy. SKOOG’s patented platform includes a parent-controlled app with unique cube-like hardware that lets kids play and create without relying solely on a smartphone screen.
Sesame Street is SKOOG’s first children’s brand collaboration; the new platform will combine SKOOG technology with Sesame Workshop’s early childhood expertise and educational content to create a new hands-on – and screen-independent – way to play. By pressing soft, squeezable, interchangeable RFID buttons on their SKOOG Cube, little ones will be able to enjoy interactive songs, games, and stories featuring the voices of beloved Sesame Street characters.
“Children’s interactive play has never been as important as it is right now. In today’s complex digital world, we set out on a mission to help motivate and inspire children, leading the shift from passive consumption to active engagement—while enabling children of all abilities to play, engage, and consume safe and smart content independently,” said Gregg Stein, SKOOG Inc., CEO.
“As huge Sesame Street fans, we’re thrilled to be collaborating with Sesame Workshop, a community of creators, educators, and unforgettable characters built on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” continued Stein. “Together, we have created a best-in-class physical and digital creative sandbox that will empower millions of children to experience the joy of infinitely expandable personal play patterns, enabled by stories and audio books, branching adventures, games, musical instruments, songs and so much more.”
“Playful learning is at the heart of everything we do at Sesame Workshop, so we’re thrilled to work with SKOOG, Inc. to bring this enriching new play experience to life,” said Scott Chambers, Sesame Workshop’s Senior Vice President & General Manager, North America Media & Licensing. “We hope that our unique combination of SKOOG technology and Sesame Workshop’s powerful content will inspire kids and families to get creative together – with a little help from the Sesame Street Muppets!”
A multi-award winner and sold at Apple stores worldwide, SKOOG is on a mission to enrich children’s lives through creative and immersive play. SKOOG Inc.’s technology has developed from education and disability-led innovations to technology that helps motivate and inspire children, leading the shift from passive consumption to active engagement while enabling children of all abilities to actively play, engage, consume safe and smart content independently. Inclusive and accessible, learn more athttps://skoog.media/
About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit www.sesameworkshop.org