HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Ten thousand books, two school districts and one big mission: to spread the joy of reading and inspire our next generation of storytellers.
As part of Disney's Disney's Magic of Storytelling literacy campaign, ABC13 spent the day Saturday handing out free Disney books to every El Campo and Wharton ISD elementary student - nearly 3,000 in all.
An army of parents, teachers and volunteers flooded Northside Elementary in El Campo and the Wharton Civic Center, ready to help meet the need for books in their communities.
For some students, these are the first books they have ever owned.
"Reading is one of the most important things that transcends lives and creates a good start for young children, especially," parent Herman Mauch said.
In El Campo ISD, the need for books has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district includes 80 percent economically disadvantaged students at the elementary level alone.
"I knew there was a need in my community for literacy, but more specifically for students who live outside of city limits and don't have access to reading programs or public libraries," said Ryan Williamson, an El Campo High School alum who is now leading the district's own book mobile project.
PHOTOS: Wide smiles and new books in Wharton County
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Students from Pre-K to 6th grade received three books each, in addition to some cute tote bags from Houston's Disney Store locations in The Galleria, Cypress and Texas City.
The rest of the 10,000 books will go to fill each district's elementary school libraries and book mobile projects.
Families we spoke with Saturday couldn't wait to get home to crack open their new books.
"It really brings out their imagination and makes them more open minded, with any book they read, I think," parent Mindy Acuna said.
"I just really like to read," third grader Maddie Acuna added. "It's magic."
On Friday, two Disney Channel stars helped ABC13 reveal the big surprise during a virtual kickoff.
"Bunk'd" star Scarlett Estevez and "Sydney to the Max" actor Jackson Dollinger spoke with Eyewitness News, giving shoutouts to students at Hutchins, Myatt, Northside, Sivells and Wharton Elementary schools.
WATCH: Scarlett Estevez talks to ABC13 Houston
As part of Magic of Storytelling, Disney Publishing Worldwide has donated millions of books through partner First Book, a nonprofit organization that puts new books and educational resources into the hands of educators who serve children from underserved communities nationwide.
Teachers and organizations that work with students in need can learn how to get access to free and low cost books through First Book at MagicOfStorytelling.com.
The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC13.