For the first time since the contest began, Zoe has been kicked out of the top five! How did this happen?

Micheal Ian Black. He is a comedian, and actor, a Twitterer with over one million followers, and the author of The Purple Kangaroo. He seems nice enough, but man, oh man, is his book putting the big hurt on Zoe: his book has kicked Zoe out of the the top five!!

The top five books in the competition will make it into Cheerios boxes, so Zoe still has a chance, but only if you can spare her a few seconds today and every day through the end of the week.


1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify every person you have ever met in your entire life to PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE. Yes, I seriously mean that.

5. Do this every day until the end of October. That is only a few more days!


Today’s Guest Blogger prefers to remain anonymous, so we’ll just call him a Friend of the Forest, which he is, indeed.

He was curious about this program that gets books into boxes of Cheerios, so he did a bit of digging. He wrote the following letter and gave me permission to post it.

"Waking Up with Cheerios

This is an apology to Laurie, Liz Scanlon, and about six million children.


Last week, when Scanlon posted here and wished Laurie good luck in the contest, I wrote back to her and said, “I haven’t read your book, but the cover is captivating. Cheerios probably won’t be marking what books are in what boxes, so if I don’t get ZOE on my first few tries, I hope I get ALL THE WORLD.”


I actually thought I’d be doing a good thing by buying all those boxes.  But, looking back on it now, I was wrong.  I was wrong about a lot of things.


First, you can actually see inside the Cheerios boxes.  I haven’t bought cereal for ages, and I didn’t know, but that is a cool way to do it so that kids don’t get two of the same book.  Kudos to Cheerios for that.


What really woke me up, though, is when I wondered how exactly these six million books are paid for.  I knew the authors didn’t get royalties, but someone had to pay for the printing, and the Spoonfuls of Stories page didn’t tell me much at all.


So I started searching and soon I found this site


I was blown away – Cheerios has been doing this for eight years and so far has donated 3.2 million dollars of its own money to put 40 million books in their boxes.  How cool is that?


I kept reading, and soon I realized the whole point of Spoonfuls of Stories isn’t to promote the books or even Cheerios.  It’s to get books to kids who don’t have books.  In short, I’d missed the entire point.


Well, I kept reading and discovered that the ones behind it all are the folks at First Book.  So I went to the

First Book site, and while it’s difficult for many of us to believe that so many children don’t have books of their own, here’s the facts:


* A recent study shows that while in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.


* 80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.


All of a sudden I felt very small.  Like I’d heard a diner was giving away free books, gone in and grabbed a bunch, and then on the way out happened to look up and see a sign saying it’s a soup kitchen.  Meaning those books just might be these kids’ only chance to get books all year.  Something they can take home, call their own, and read again and again.  Opening up an entire world for them and giving them theskills they need.


I’d been thinking of only what I could get, even when I can perfectly afford to buy ZOE and ALL THE WORLD and so give the authors something in return.  And meanwhile here’s countless volunteers at First Book delivering millions of books to children in need.


I felt like the biggest schmuck in ALL THE WORLD.


So right then I decided to donate to First Book and help promote their work.  And to say yes, root for your favorite authors’ books, and yes, get your vote in each day, ‘cause the contest is still very cool, just now for a much better reason.


As Liz Scanlon says in

her own post about the contest, “The book choices are all mighty fine so I’m not worried either way – it’s just flat-out goodness for the kids.”

And it’s true.  In the face of what the contest does, it doesn’t matter who wins.  It only matters that First Book continues, and in that everyone can help.


One way to do that is to go to The Literacy Site.  I’ve actually been clicking on every tab on that page for years, and never knew till today, when reading down through it, that it’s backed by none other than First Book.


Also, if you do pick up a box of Cheerios, another way to help is through the donation form on the side.  An easy way to say thanks for the book and for all the work First Book and Cheerios do.


Jon Scieszka sums up their mission well: “From my perspective as an author, a teacher, and a dad, what Cheerios is doing through this Spoonfuls of Stories program is exactly and spectacularly right.”"

Me, again. THANK YOU, Friend of the Forest, for the research and the reminder of what really matters. What matters is that children will have books in their hands, books that are just as important to their growing minds as breakfast is for their growing bodies. It will be fun if my book is included, but the really awesome part is that this program gets books to children and when that happens, we all win.



  1. Reading your note from the Friend of the Forest made me think of an idea. On the national day of service earlier this year, I volunteered at our local food pantry. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. I don’t know if it works this way at all food pantries, but this one knew all about the numbers/sexes of kids in the families so that they could package the food accordingly.

    I wonder if as a community, we couldn’t educate folks on the number of kids in lower income families that don’t have books in their home and encourage donations of kids books to food pantries as a means of getting books into their homes? Some would probably see it outside their scope, but a little education might fix that.

    The place I worked was the local Jewish food bank and I recall someone had donated a bunch of books and we were putting one in some of the boxes that we gave out. So, perhaps it isn’t such a far-fetched idea.

  2. Have you noticed that that percentages of votes per book has been evening out, though? I believe that your persistence will prevail in the end.

  3. Literacy

    I don’t remember the exact numbers from a workshop I took, wish I had my notes in front of me, but research shows that kids who are not in print rich environments from an early age are at a distinct disadvantage both for picking up reading skills and for developing healthy reading habits. And, the kicker is that as they get older the literacy gap just keeps widening between kids from the print rich environment and those less fortunate.

    I taught English for fifteen years in a school for at-risk teens before resigning to write full-time. The earlier that kids have exposure and positive experiences with books the better. The deeper the deficit the steeper the climb. I had some success stories where I helped struggling teens with almost no reading skills grow to love books but I had a fair number of students that I failed to reach.

    Hats off to any person, company or program trying to get good books to where they need to be.

  4. Cheers to Cheerios

    I agree
    Hats off to Cheerios for doing this
    They just don’t have to you know. And yet, they do.

    In this age of greed and selfishness, it’s so gratifying to know that there is someone out there who encourages reading and does so through their own product ! (Cheerios boxes)

    In fact, it would be great if each of Lauries friends and fans here would spread the word as well as go out and buy a box or two of Cheerios (specifically the boxes that contain the books).
    MONEY TALKS– If people continue to support this program by buying those cereal boxes, the bean counters in corporate will SEE that the sales are steady and they will more than likely continue this inspiring program.
    Maybe this past generation (the ones who’ve been growing up each year READING these books), once they are grown up and started their own lives, will be the ones who start repairing the problems in the world and maybe they will have been inspired, in part, from this very program?
    Thanks for pointing this out Laurie!
    Frank Zubek frank.zubek@yahoo.com

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