Marissa Meyer Helps Riley Turn a New Page

By Danielle Laliberte, Treehouse Little Wishes Team

A few years ago, local young-adult novelist Marissa Meyer was listening to the radio with her husband when our annual radiothon, Holiday Magic, came on over her speakers. “We have a couple of family members who were adopted through the foster care system and we’re currently going through the process of adopting two foster children ourselves, so when we heard about Treehouse and their mission, we felt instantly called to participate and help local foster children as much as we could,” Marissa shared.

Riley and Author Melissa Meyer

As she learned more about Treehouse and our work to help youth in foster care thrive, Marissa started to think about the ways she might be able to use her novels to support our programs and inspire Treehouse students. “With fiction, we’re able to view our fears and test our courage – all in a safe, imagined environment. That can lead to increased confidence in our real lives,” Marissa shared. When she offered to donate some of her books to Treehouse, we found the perfect use for them—as part of our newly-launched incentive program, we made a plan to use Marissa’s books to help motivate some of our students to accomplish their academic goals and do well in school.

And as it turns out, one of our middle school students, Riley, is a huge fan of Marissa’s Lunar Chronicles series. Riley also needed some extra support to help raise her grades and finish a stack of missing assignments.  So, Riley and her Education Specialist made a plan: Each month that Riley was able to turn in her assessments on time and improve her grades, she would receive an autographed copy of one of Marissa’s novels. Both Marissa, Riley, and the staff at Treehouse agreed: this was the perfect fit!

As the year went on, we were thrilled to see that Riley’s grades started to improve, and her missing assignments started to disappear. When asked what made the difference, Riley said, “When I was on the incentive plan, I sort of forgot about the fact that I was in school and I could only focus on the books. That helped a lot in my world!”

When Marissa heard about Riley’s improvements, she too was impressed. Marissa decided that she wanted to meet Riley, share that she was rooting for her, and thank her for being a reader. We set up an end-of-the-year lunch to celebrate Riley’s hard work, and Marissa, Riley, and Riley’s caregiver got to spend the afternoon eating at one of Riley’s favorite restaurants and talking about their shared interests, passions, and Marissa’s upcoming book launch.

“Lunch was AMAZING!!! I really look up to Marissa, and she is really nice and awesome and she likes anime, too!” Riley shared. Marissa also described the meeting as “amazing,” adding that “Riley is such an effervescent young woman. It was a joy for me to get to talk to Riley and her mom and know that my books have made an impact on her life.”

What’s next for Riley? With encouragement from Marissa, her caregivers, and Treehouse staff, she plans to “work EXTRA hard” to keep her grades up, and hopes to see Marissa again at the launch party for Winter, the next installment in the Lunar Chronicles, this fall!

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About the Author

As a Treehouse Enrichment Coordinator, Danielle Laliberte connects Treehouse youth to extracurricular activities that help them meet new friends, have fun, and promote school success.

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