Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Helps Facebook Fans Share the Gift of Reading Through Polar Express Book Donation Campaign

-- Boston-based publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today committed to donate up to 25,000 new children’s books as part of a special social media campaign based around the holiday classic The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. For every new fan who “likes” the Polar Express–themed HMH Kids Facebook page through December 25, a book will be donated to a child in need, in partnership with literacy organization First Book.

This holiday season, the HMH Kids Facebook page features a special ‘Polar Express Countdown to Christmas’ – a special activity calendar containing a range of festive treats for families in the build-up to Christmas. From December 1–25, parents and kids can uncover fun holiday activities for each day, including shareable Polar Express e-cards, recipes for seasonal treats such as Polar Chocolate Nougat Caramel Squares, reindeer craft instructions, online games and mazes, and much more. HMH Kids Facebook fans are also encouraged to share holiday playlists and Polar Express-themed photos.

“HMH’s goal is to reach out to children and spur their imaginations by opening them up to the world of books,” said Gary Gentel, President of HMH’s Trade and Reference Division. “Partnering with First Book around the beloved Christmas classic The Polar Express gives us the opportunity to reach thousands of children with the life-changing message of books and the power of stories.”

Kyle Zimmer, president of First Book, says, “First Book welcomes the opportunity to work with HMH on this campaign. First Book has distributed more than 100 million new books to children from low-income families, and we are thrilled to provide more of HMH’s wonderful titles to the children needing them most. Van Allsburg’s book has been a favorite in my family for years, and we feel this contemporary classic is the ideal book on which to base a holiday giving campaign."

The Polar Express, which has sold over 10 million copies since its publication in 1985, has been honored with a Caldecott Medal, the highest accolade in children’s books; inspired dozens of seasonal train rides around the country; served as the theme for countless elementary school pageants; and perhaps most important of all, remains a steadfast reminder to readers young and old of the true magic of Christmas. Entertainment Weekly recently called it “the best book about Santa,” and the blockbuster movie adaptation, starring Tom Hanks, is shown throughout the month of December on ABC Family.  The Polar Express Activity Calendar, along with a wealth of other Polar Express and Van Allsburg material, is also available on www.polarexpress.com.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade & Reference Division
For nearly two centuries, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade and Reference Division has published some of the world’s most renowned novels, nonfiction, children’s books, and reference works in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook formats. Its distinguished author list includes eight Nobel Prize winners, forty-seven Pulitzer Prize winners, thirteen National Book Award winners, and more than one hundred Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients. HMH publishes such distinguished authors as Philip Roth, Temple Grandin, Tim O’Brien, and Umberto Eco, as well a celebrated roster of children’s authors and illustrators including Lois Lowry and David Wiesner. HMH is also home to the Best American series®; the American Heritage® family of dictionaries; Webster’s New World Dictionary; The Gourmet Cookbook, the Betty Crocker and Mark Bittman franchises, and other leading culinary properties; CliffsNotes; the Peterson Field Guides; books by J.R.R. Tolkien; and many iconic children’s books and characters including Curious George, The Little Prince, and The Polar Express. For more information, visit www.hmhbooks.com.

About First Book
First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. By making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit them online or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.