As National Children's Book Week (Nov. 14-20) kicks off, actors and children's book authors John Lithgow
and Sonia Manzano -- "Maria" from Sesame Street
-- are joining Cheerios and First Book, a national literacy organization, to help get books into children's hands. This effort is important, as 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children, and 37% of 4th graders read below the basic achievement level.
Through its Spoonfuls of Stories
program, Cheerios is putting 5 million free children's books -- including Lithgow's book, "I'm a Manatee," and Manzano's book, "No Dogs Allowed!" -- inside specially marked Cheerios boxes.
Cheerios is also giving half a million dollars to First Book. Families can help get even more books to children through special First Book donation forms found on Cheerios boxes. 100 percent of the proceeds will be used to buy books -- with books going back to the communities where the donations were made.