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Recognizing Disney Publishing’s Katie Abbey and Her Work on the Magic of Storytelling Campaign

Emily Wagner

by , Digital Employee Communications Manager, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products

For the last decade, Disney and First Book – a nonprofit organization that puts free or affordable books and resources into the hands of educators who serve children in need – have worked together on the Magic of Storytelling campaign. Now celebrating its 10th year, Magic of Storytelling inspires imagination and a lifelong love of reading.

In celebration of Disney Parks Experiences and Product’s Global Recognition Week and the 10th anniversary of Magic of Storytelling, we wanted to highlight the work of Katie Abbey, global operations associate for Disney Publishing Worldwide and thank her for “Being the Magic.” For the past 11 years, Katie has worked closely with First Book to ensure that both children and educators have access to some of Disney’s most beloved books and series.

Editors: Tell us about your background and your role at Disney.

Katie: I started my Disney career as a performer with Disney Cruise Line in 2001. I then joined Disney Publishing Worldwide in 2005, first as a coordinator with Human Resources, and then as part of the Publishing Operations team. My current role focuses on managing our book donations to First Book, and ensuring the word is spread far and wide, both internally and externally, about the incredible impact our collaboration has made over the years.

Editors: How has Disney Publishing Worldwide supported First Book over the years, and how is DPW supporting them during the 10th annual Magic of Storytelling campaign?

Katie: Disney has supported First Book in myriad ways over the years from both Publishing and Enterprise perspectives, including book donations, skills-based volunteering, and financial support. Currently, Disney Publishing Worldwide is partnering with shopDisney.com on “Buy a Book, Give a Book,” where for every book purchased on shopDisney.com through the end of 2022, one book is donated to First Book. It’s such a simple way to make your purchases count toward something that benefits children.

2018 Magic of Storytelling Family Festival at MEND in Pacoima, CA.

Editors: Can you share some of your favorite moments from Magic of Storytelling campaigns over the past decade?

Katie: Preparing for the Magic of Storytelling book distribution and Family Festival is always exciting. It’s exhilarating to watch 100 Disney VoluntEARS sort 40,000 books in preparation for the educators and families of the community, and then to see them realize the impact of their efforts. We typically have a small group of children come in to preview the books and make their selections before the distribution the following day. It’s a very special and intimate experience for the VoluntEARS to witness first-hand the magic that occurs when a child has the freedom to choose a book of their very own. And not just one book, but several!

2019 Magic of Storytelling Family Festival at LaFayette Recreation Center in Los Angeles, CA.

One of my favorite moments is from a Magic of Storytelling book distribution and Family Festival we held in 2017 when the cast of Stuck in the Middle led kids and families in a dance party to music from Radio Disney – it was such a fun time! Another wonderful memory is from Jan. 2020, right before the pandemic began. Disney Publishing author Rebecca Roanhorse visited a local charter school in Albuquerque, Native American Community Academy to promote her book Race to the Sun. Every student received a full set of books (at the time, eight titles) from our Rick Riordan Presents imprint. It was a really special day.

Editors: What are your thoughts on the impact that the Magic of Storytelling campaign and the work Disney and First Book have accomplished over the years?

Katie: The relationship between Disney Publishing Worldwide and First Book has been deeply impactful in so many ways. From putting books directly into children’s hands – which, for many of these kids, is the very first book they have ever been able to call their own – to helping fund other initiatives like First Book’s Stories for All Project, which aims to increase diversity and promote inclusion among children’s books and literature. The roots are strong, and the sky’s the limit.

2019 Magic of Storytelling Family Festival at LaFayette Recreation Center in Los Angeles, CA.