Developing a joy of reading in today’s youth is a key part of ensuring future generations can lead the world with the wisdom and problem solving abilities it takes to improved living conditions around the globe. Disney, known for its imaginative storytelling, sees a key role for its theme park and publishing divisions.

Through its second annual First Book Family Festival, Walt Disney World Resort placed 40,000 needed books into the hands of Central Florida educators, children, and families. The event was a no-cost shopping experience where educators were able to select up to 50 books for their schools. Children and families were able to select up to five books per child.

The books, donated by Disney Worldwide Publishing, represented both classic and new Disney tales that appeal to readers of a variety of ages. The event was held at Central Florida’s “A Gift For Teaching,” a non profit where teachers can pick up supplies they need for their classrooms for free.

Mickey Mouse stopped by to help as did Walt Disney World’s new Ambassador team.

“The magic of storytelling and the power of imagination can be seen in every corner of Walt Disney World Resort,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, director of external affairs for Walt Disney World Resort “Extending that magic and power beyond our resort and into the homes of our neighbors helps to cultivate a love of learning, reading and growing together.”

More than 100 Disney VoluntEARS spent hours sorting and organizing the thousands of books by age and genre. They also assisted event attendees in finding perfect-fit books for their needs, helping to provide the resources needed for in-home experiences where families can explore their imaginations together and cultivate a lifelong love of imaginative storytelling.

This unique experience was made possible through Disney’s longstanding partnership with First Book, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing new books to educators and organizations serving children from low-income families.

“Much like Walt Disney World Resort, reading has the power to transport children and families into other worlds, letting them explore all their imaginations have to offer,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO and co-founder of First Book. “There’s no better way for us to showcase the magic of reading than by partnering with Disney to host events like the one today.”

For more than 80 years, Disney books have brought children and parents together, sparking imaginations across the globe. The Walt Disney Company has a long-standing relationship with First Book, through which more than 67 million Disney-themed books have been donated to children in need.

We love to read these stories about Disney giving back to the communities it is a part of. 40,000 new books will make a big difference in the lives of children in Central Florida.