| April 5, 2011

Writers Changing Lives: A Chat With Mary Pope Osborne


Undoubtedly, reading can change a person’s life. But, as Worldreader believes, the real power of increased global literacy goes far beyond the individual. Creating a love of reading among children in the developing world has a ripple effect that binds families, neighborhoods, and the broader society.

We’re not alone in thinking that way. Mary Pope Osborne, author of the world-renown Magic Tree House series, has a similar sentiment.

“If children everywhere have the opportunity to learn how to read and have access to books, then it increases their knowledge of the world,” she said. “It increases their knowledge of other people. It promotes more community in the world.”

That aim, combined with her personal mission to ensure children everywhere have access to books, is what got her amped about Worldreader and why she donated nearly 50 books to kids in our program.

“When I heard about Worldreader, it was so exciting because I realized that there are no boundaries to where books can go now,” said Mary, adding that folks at Random House, which publishes the Magic Tree House series, suggested she get involved with us.

She was equally happy to hear about how our program in Ghana is getting families to read together.

“We can’t say enough about how important it is for parents to read with their children. If they sit down with a book or a Kindle and read together, that’s the best bonding experience a parent and a child could have,” Mary said.

The family experience around reading brought back memories of her childhood, and a set of books that made a lasting impression on her.

“In my house, I have three sets of the Little House on the Prairie books. They were written in the 1930s… and they are still as rich and alive today as they were then.”

“I got one off the shelf, and asked, “Why did this series mean so much me? First, they are beautifully written, and are very evocative. They have tons of wonderful details about how the pioneers lived… and their daily lives.”

“They also are about the love that family members have for each other. They are about how they traveled together, sometimes into dangerous situations, and how they stayed close, and felt safe. When I was a child, my family moved all the time because my dad was a career officer in the military. I think that I was getting a sense of security for my own life by reading these books. These children had far more dangers to face than I did, and yet they felt so protected. There was family love, the family worked together, and everyone supported each other.”

We can only hope that reading will give children in the developing world the same sense of support Mary found, and encourage them to overcome the obstacles they may face.

Thanks for the chat, Mary.

For more information about how authors can contribute their work to Worldreader, visit the authors’ area of our website.

One of the many books in the Magic Tree House series