ORANGE COUNTY, CA—Can you remember your first hero? Do you remember the inspiration he or she brought you? Was your hero the President, an athlete, an author, your mom or your grandpa? Though our favorite colors and foods often change with age, the people we call heroes often remain so. In an effort to inspire children, Montage Hotels & Resorts’ new program is putting children in touch with potential heroes through reading and creativity.
Montage has named New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer as its first-ever literary ambassador. As part of the program, children staying at any Montage hotel will have the choice between one of four books by Meltzer: I am Lucille Ball, I am Jackie Robinson, I am Abraham Lincoln and I am Amelia Earhart. The books are part of the Ordinary People Change the World series.
“We wanted to inspire children,” Meltzer said of the program. “I think, in this world right now, we’re all starving for heroes.”
The program kicked off this month on National Read Across America Day. According to Jason Herthel, Montage’s president and COO: “As a special arrival amenity for families traveling with children, guests will have the option of selecting either a stuffed animal or an Ordinary People Change the World book.” He said the books can also be purchased at the retail boutiques inside the hotels.
As part of the initiative, children are also treated to a box of creative items, including crayons and activity sheets. “The Paintbox program at each hotel will provide children with coloring and activity sheets from [series]publisher Penguin Random House which tie into each of these books,” explained Herthel. Paintbox will incorporate weekly readings and activities based on the series as well.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Meltzer remembered his earliest heroes: his ninth-grade English teacher and his grandfather.
His grandfather ignited the spark that led Meltzer to become an author. “My grandfather gave me my love of story. He used to tell me this story about Batman,” he said, who noted that he would then ask his grandfather to repeat the “30-word” story over and over again and, each time, he would remain intrigued.
Now, Meltzer is internationally known as an author who writes thrillers about lies, assassins and justice.
For his Ordinary People series, he said he wanted to show his children who and what a hero is. Meltzer has three children. “The inspiration was my own children. I wanted to give them real heroes. We don’t tell you the stories of just when they were famous, but also before,” said the author. He explained that in I am Abraham Lincoln, a young Lincoln had to make a moral decision.
Meltzer believes that being a hero is within anyone, and exclaimed, “This is what we’re all capable of on our very best days.”
Montage was inclined to tap Meltzer as its literary ambassador because of what he brings to the table. “Brad Meltzer is one of the only authors to have books on the bestseller list for fiction, non-fiction, advice, children and comic books, making him the ideal partner for Montage’s literary ambassador,” Herthel said.
“What I love here is that Montage and I have the same philosophy: we are giving free books to kids,” Meltzer said.
Meltzer and Montage both agree: the program is not just for children. “The Literary Ambassador program is not only for children as Meltzer will pen Brad’s Books of the Month, recommending his current favorite literary finds for both children and adults each month on montagemagazine.com and on the brand’s social channels,” said Herthel.