"When a child doesn’t read, imagination disappears." I’m not a happy-ever-after junkie; by and large, I prefer the darker fairytales over the sanitized/sugary Disney ones. But that did not make me immune from being a tad depressed upon seeing the above PSAs.

Who wants to see Cinderella like this, her rosy glow replaced with ghostly pallor and limping along the hospital corridor with an IV drip beside her? In a similar print ad, Peter Pan is featured with the magic of Neverland wearing off so now he’s old, sickly-looking and wheelchair-ridden. Any fairytale-lover’s heart will break a little when they see what happened to these classic storybook characters. But that’s exactly the concept behind these ads: the characters growing old, slowly dying, and eventually disappearing because of illiteracy. The ads are a part of the 2008 campaign The Gift of Reading, launched by the Quebec-based organization Literacy Foundation. Their main aim is to fight illiteracy.

“Reading feeds our imaginations,” says Gaëtan Namouric, Executive Vice-President and Creative Director at the agency. “When a child doesn’t have access to reading, that’s a child deprived of an imaginary world. This unbelievable injustice should mobilize a large number of industries in the field of culture, media, publishing and even ours, advertising. What would our future be if people couldn’t understand our messages? The mobilization behind The Gift of Reading® is also to take action to protect tomorrow’s creative; everyone in our industry should contribute.”

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