News

Usher Joins Scholastic to Launch “Open a World of Possible” Initiative and Celebrate the Power & Joy of Reading

By Abi Mandelbaum
September 11th, 2014

Register now for the live “BIGGERTHAN WORDS” webcast with Usher to be held on November 6, 2014 at 1 p.m. ET

New York, NY (September 8, 2014) — Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, today announced that Usher is joining with the company to launch a new “Open a World of Possible” initiative, designed to elevate the importance and joy of reading for all children.

On November 6, 2014 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, Scholastic will host “BIGGERTHAN WORDS,” a live webcast about how kids can open a world of possibilities through reading with global entertainment superstar and education advocate Usher. Live from Scholastic headquarters in New York City, Usher will directly address an audience of children and encourage them, their parents and their teachers to share their love of reading with others by becoming reading mentors and making a difference in their schools and communities. Registration for the webcast opens today at www.scholastic.com/worldofpossible.

“I established New Look, a charitable organization to assist young people to become leaders and to instill in them a belief that they can create change in their communities and around the world,” said Usher. “I’m excited to host the webcast with Scholastic to demonstrate to kids how reading frequently, and being a reading mentor to their friends and others in their community, can open doors to endless possibilities.”

During the live webcast, the eight-time Grammy Award–winning artist will perform live and talk about ways children can get involved in spreading the joy of reading. For their first call to action, following the webcast, students can visit the Scholastic website with their teachers to learn more about three leading non-profit organizations that are providing books in the U.S. and around the world to the children who need them most, and vote for the organization(s) they’d like to receive a donation of books. The Scholastic Possible Fund will make a donation of 100,000 books, and each organization will receive a portion of the donation.

Through the Open a World of Possible initiative, Scholastic hopes to encourage conversations in classrooms, at home and online so teachers, parents and children can share ideas and advice about simple ways to incorporate reading into busy classroom days and family time. Scholastic invites people everywhere to join the conversation and connect with peers on social media channels using the hashtag #SharePossible.

“It is clear from the research that allowing children to read for pleasure as well as for information, and encouraging children to find inspiration in great stories and great characters can have profound benefits for young people,” said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic. “When children choose the books they want to read, they read more and they develop fluency, confidence and a curiosity about their world that ultimately opens a world of possibilities.”

THE RESEARCH: Reading for Pleasure as a Driving Force in Children’s Learning and Growth

• Children who read for pleasure make more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling than those who rarely read. Between the ages of 10 and 16, the readers scored higher on all three tests than their non-reading peers.1
• Reading fiction enhances understanding of others, builds empathy, and improves “interpersonal understanding” across politics, business and education.2
• Regular daily reading not only boosts academic and economic success, but it also seems to “awaken a person’s social and civic sense.” Readers attend more concerts and theater than non-readers, exercise more and play more sports—no matter what their educational level.3

THE RESOURCES: A Collection of Free Resources for Educators and Families

Available online at scholastic.com/worldofpossible:
• Social Video Series: Featuring parents and teachers sharing their practical peer-to-peer ideas and advice to incorporate more independent reading into children’s lives and to get them excited about reading.
• Free eBook: An anthology of stories from more than 100 of America’s leading literacy experts sharing their personal moments of discovery and connection to the joy of reading, titled, Open a World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and Power of Reading.” Available for download in EPUB, PRC and PDF formats.
• New Video: Celebrates the many ways that children, teachers and parents become joyful, engaged and empowered through reading and learning, featuring lines from a poem written by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards winner Sojourner Ahebee and read aloud by actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTk54gRVryk.
• Research: The compendium, “The Joy & Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion,” supports the efficacy of the Open a World of Possible initiative.

REFERENCES:
1. Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2013). Social Inequalities in Cognitive Scores at Age 16: The Role of Reading. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
2. Djikic, M., Oatley, K. and Moldoveanu, M. (2013). “Reading Other Minds: Effects of Literature on Empathy.” Scientific Study of Literature, 3 (1), 28–47.
3. Iyengar, S. & Ball, D. (2007). To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence. United States: National Endowment for the Arts.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.

About Usher
Usher is currently preparing for his North American Tour entitled “The UR Experience” and recording his forthcoming 8th studio album. Earlier this year he completed the filming of his role as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in the upcoming film “Hands of Stone,” a biopic of boxer Roberto Duran played by Edgar Ramirez and costars Robert De Niro due in theaters early 2015. In addition, Usher recently completed his second season as a coach on NBC’s Emmy award winning hit TV show “The Voice” where he proved his top-notch coaching capability by mentoring Josh Kaufman who became the champion of season 6.

Challenging himself creatively and testing musical boundaries are characteristics that have defined Usher’s career since he was first discovered twenty years ago on Star Search. Usher has been ranked by the Recording Industry Assn. of America as one of the best-selling artists in American music history, having sold over 46 million albums worldwide. He has won numerous awards including 8 Grammy Awards and was named the #1 Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade. Usher has attained nine Hot 100 #1 hits (all as a lead artist) and 18 Hot 100 top-10 singles.

Realizing that with success comes responsibility. Usher has also proven to be a major philanthropic force. In 1999, Usher created New Look, a charitable organization that develops global youth leaders by way of access, awareness and empowerment. In recognition of his accomplishments, Usher has been honored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Trumpet Foundation, Do Something, the NAACP, and as the 2010 Ford Freedom Award Scholar.

Media Contact:
Sara Sinek
212-343-6899
ssinek@scholastic.com

Michael Barrett
212-343-6570
mbarrett@scholastic.com

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.