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10 years, 65 million books!

I have the opportunity to work on some pretty cool projects in my job. But every once in a while, there’s a project that I’m particularly jazzed about.

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories (SOS) program is one of them. I just smile thinking about it!

Originating in 2002, SOS is an annual promotion featuring mini versions of real children’s books inside Cheerios cereal boxes. Titles you know and love have been included, like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and my nephew’s personal current fave, “Hello Baby!”

Cheerios partners with a rocking organization, First Book, and grants a donation that helps further First Book’s mission of getting books in the hands of children from low-income families in the U.S.

Books are painfully scarce for many of these kids. One study I saw showed there is only one book available for every 300 children in some of the lowest-income neighborhoods.

In a nutshell, literacy is super important to the learning success of any child – and not having access to books throughout childhood is one of the biggest barriers to literacy. That’s why I love working on this program.

Together with First Book, we’re making a true difference in the lives of millions of kids.

And this year, I was able to witness it firsthand. We held “Breakfast and a Book” events across the nation; a kick-off event in Los Angeles, the Cheerios New Author Contest event in Washington D.C., as well as events in Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Houston and San Antonio. I could go on and on about these events, but pictures like this explain it all.

That photo is from the SOS kick-off event at the Los Angeles Central Branch Public Library. There were about 50 kids there, and our guest readers were actress Jennie Garth (our campaign spokesperson) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The Mayor read the stories in Spanish.

While a group of us were excited to meet Jennie (“90210”!), the kids were particularly in love with the mayor. Every time he read a page, they would scream and clap. It made for a humorous story time. Plus, all of the kids at the event went home with their own copy of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

The second SOS event was held in Washington D.C. at the Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Neighborhood Library with the 2010 New Author Contest winner Ron Rauss as our VIP reader.

I couldn’t get over the big smiles on those kiddo’s faces. It was a fun event for both Ron and the kids! Everyone there also went home with their own version of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and also received Ron’s book, “Can I Just Take a Nap?”

We rolled out five more of these event across the country – and even got some of our retailer partners involved. For example, we held the Charlotte event at a Lowes Food store, and our guest reader was Larry Sprinkle, a local weather man. You can catch his coverage here at “Larry’s Look.”

If you’ve made it this far into this post – thank you for taking a moment to read about how we’re celebrating the 10th year of the Spoonfuls of Stories program!

Now, I’m going to ask you to take one more moment. Gaze into the distance and think about your favorite book memory. What story is it? Who is reading to you, or who are you reading to? Where are you located?

These are the types of memories our partnership with First Book is giving these kids!

The Cheerios team wants to hear from you! What are some great titles that you’d like to see in the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program in future years? Leave a comment, and we’ll definitely take them into consideration.

Editor’s note: For more information on Ron Rauss, read “Drowsy Dad becomes winning writer.”

Erin Pisca is an assistant integration communications manager at General Mills, based in Minneapolis, Minn. She works on public relations, promotion marketing, and social media campaigns for Box Tops for Education. She began her career at General Mills in 2007.

Erin Pisca

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