See actor Nathan Fillion and author PJ Haarsma in a video to promote their reading charity
SFX has long admired the US charity Kids Need To Read , and you may have read about it on the SFX site before. Founded by The Softwire author PJ Haarsma with help from his friend Nathan "Mal Reynolds" Fillion, the campaign works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to under-funded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across America, especially those serving disadvantaged children.
Here's a short video of Nathan Fillion explaining the concept, or trying to:
"When I first travelled across North America to promote The Softwire, my initial excitement quickly turned to dismay when I witnessed the lack of book funds available to schools and libraries," says Haarsma on the official site. "Children would follow me into the parking lot after my presentation, begging for a book they couldn't afford while teachers and librarians scrambled to find funds for even a single copy."
"It breaks my heart to think that there are kids out there, ready to have their imaginations lit on fire, excited and wanting to read, and facing naked shelves in their school or local libraries," adds Fillion. "Rather than complain or wait till the system stops failing our nation’s children, this is a matter I feel we must take into our own hands. There are children, right now, waiting – wanting to read. What shall we tell them?"
The charity already notes many successes. One recent donation to Girls Incorporated Of Omaha (Nebraska) has a Serenity-themed back story: an international Can't Stop The Serenity fundraiser is conducted every year to raise money for Equality Now (an organization dedicated to ending violence and discrimination against women around the world), obviously run by Joss Whedon fans, and a proportion of proceeds go to Kids Need to Read as well. Kids Need To Read pledged a $500 book donation as a prize in the global prize draw - Jennifer Thursfield of England won the prize donation (which Kids Need To Read upped to $1000) and gave it to Girls Inc Of Omaha. Girls Inc Of Omaha has been serving girls ages 5 to 18 for nearly 35 years with gender-specific, research-based campaigns. The donation enabled them to receive many boxes of books and magazines.
Kids Need To Read will be at a number of US events this year, but most notably Phoenix Comicon (Phoenix Convention Center and Hyatt Regency, Arizona, 27-30 May). As Phoenix Comicon's sponsored charity, Kids Need To Read will be the beneficiary of several activities, including the Bookmans "Geek Out And Rock" on Saturday night, with Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Aaron Douglas, and Daniel Logan.
Find out more about upcoming events and ways to get involved at the official site . We'll be hearing more from PJ Haarsma later in the week on SFX.co.uk.
The SFX Summer Of SF Reading is in association with Waterstone’s , where you can buy all the books you'll be reading about.