The Center for the Book in the U.S. Library of Congress has designated 1991 as the Year of the Lifetime Reader. It is a year to remind people that "at every stage of life, from early childhood through old age, books and reading nourish growing minds and stimulate active involvement in society."
During this year throughout the United States the theme will be supporting reading of all kinds in ways that will benefit all age groups. The campaign, with first lady Barbara Bush as honorary chairwoman, promotes family literacy programs, adult literacy and reading motivation projects, and the needs of blind and physically handicapped readers. It also continues the work of the hundreds of community coalitions formed during the Library of Congress' 1989 Year of the Young Reader campaign.To recognize the yearlong celebration of lifetime reading, the Deseret News will honor activities effective in promoting reading. We'll print some of the best reading experiences in upcoming months, and special certificates and book plates will be sent to all participants who let us know about their projects.
Recognition for Year of the Lifetime Reader in Utah projects is open to any group or person promoting reading. This can include classrooms; libraries; parent-teacher groups; families; read-along groups; churches; bookstores; and volunteer, literary and service groups. Businesses, unions and "lunch-hour" sessions are also possibilities.
Here's a list of ideas for promoting reading for the Year of the Lifetime Reader in Utah:
- Start a "read-around" at the dinner table.
You can try this at home or maybe volunteer to read during the dinner hour at aretirement center. The possibility of read-aloud during lunch time in a school may be interesting.
- Create a "Share the Book" bookshelf.
Recently, I was in a restaurant in California and next to the entrance was a shelf inviting families to trade books. "Borrow a book and leave one!" was the notice. The books were mainly for younger readers, but they were excellent titles, some new but many loved and hand-worn. I borrowed one to read while I ate breakfast and found a note written on a bookmark by a child telling what she enjoyed about the book. I treasured that experience, added my own feelings, returned the book to the shelf and have since sent a few personal copies to add to the ones on the "Share the Book" shelf as appreciation.
Since restaurants, medical offices and clinics do provide reading materials, maybe this would be a project to include magazines, newspapers, brochures, pamphlets and books.
- Serve as a volunteer in a center for English as a second language, where learners could listen and participate in all kinds of reading.
- Develop projects that combine reading and writing.
Some ideas to begin with:
- "Shared journals" between husband-wife or among family members promote a special bonding.
- Read editorials and respond to them.
- Read a book and write to the author via the publishing company.
- Read and discuss the Bill of Rights and write about what issues in life are related to one of the amendments.
- Make a display of reading: past, present and future.
For example, how was reading taught during the 1900s that is different from reading in the future? Could reading be taught by the computer?
The history of "news" would be another interesting project to pursue.
- Collect answers to "Why reading is important . . ." from parents, local sports figures, etc.
How would an adult respond to that question if he or she is working in a literacy program and never learned to read or perhaps dislikes reading?
How do blind people read? What does reading mean to them?
- Combine reading projects from various media.
Select newspaper articles about the Middle East, for example, to compare with a variety of magazine reports. Combine these with a book that provides an in-depth understanding. What differences are found?
- Develop a list of local Utah authors (the libraries can help) and make a project to read as many of them as possible. Write letters to let them know about your projects.
- Read the books listed for the Utah Children's Book Award and the Young Adult Book Award. Most libraries have them on a designated shelf. You get to vote on your favorites, too.
- Organize a book group that reads and discusses various works. Guidelines for developing such groups are available. Let me know if you need help.
One issue for the discussion group might be ways to share reading with your children. A pamphlet that could be helpful is "Parenting's Best-Kept Secret: Reading to Your Children," written by first lady Barbara Bush. This illustrates the value of reading to children by offering personal examples. It includes suggestions for getting started and how to make reading a fun-filled habit, with guidelines from experts on how to choose books. The four-page pamphlet was published in the October 1990 issue of Reader's Digest. For reprints write: Editor, Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, N.Y. 10570 or call: (914) 241-5374.
Working with a small discussion group of young readers before or after school or on weekends would be a worthy project.
- Volunteer to read to shut-ins and at retirement centers. This is a good project for Scouts, church groups and youth organizations. (We remember to do the caroling during the holidays but forget to keep up the personal contact.)
- Set a goal to apply for library cards. The library systems have celebrations for 5-year-olds when they get their cards. Call for details.
- Plan one "home evening" as a library visit.
- Work with regional, state and local tourist boards to encourage reading about local and regional authors and subjects.
- Help get local government involved in the Year of the Lifetime Reader in Utah. For instance, urge the governor to proclaim 1991 the Year of the Lifetime Reader or try to get it recognized in the Legislature.
- Sponsor art projects about reading. Ideas might include bookmark displays, popularity polls of books or authors, TV and movie ties and their comparisons or "If I Were an Author" essays and illustrations. Window displays and mini-gallery exhibits could be a project used in commercial locations.
- Sponsor an author visit to a store or classroom.
- Donate a book for a worthy cause. Make the presentation to a center instead of a lavish birthday gift. Find books in your library that you can donate to the needy or to homeless centers.
- Plan a 12 days of reading - similar to the Twelve Days of Christmas. Leave a "reading surprise" anonymously on someone's doorstep for 12 (or more!) days that would delight the recipient. (Don't forget to let the recipient know with the first reading surprise what the purpose is so they won't think they're getting more doorstep advertisements.) You might try a cartoon, a thoughtful essay, a short quotation or scripture, a handwritten letter of appreciation or caring, a personal copy of a book that you'd like to pass on or a plaque that could help them through a difficult time.
`Best Beginnings' helps tots become hooked on books
"The Best Beginnings . . . Begin With Books," sponsored by Holy Cross Hospital and the Salt Lake City Library, is the first project to be recognized with a Deseret News Newspaper in Education certificate for its contribution to the Year of the Lifetime Reader in Utah. (See related story on this page.)
In support of a lifetime of reading enjoyment, the library and the hospital provide each new mother at the hospital with a free package of information outlining steps for successfully raising readers. The packet includes tips and suggestions for reading aloud and lists of books available for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, with additional parent resource books.
"The idea is to catch them in the cradle and turn these children into lifetime readers," says Colleen McLaughlin, community relations manager for the Salt Lake City Public Library System.
Each baby born in Salt Lake City's Holy Cross Hospital in January will receive a "Best Beginnings . . . Begin with Books" T-shirt. Brochures will be distributed to all new mothers during 1991 and are also available free of charge at all city library locations. These also contain "Baby's First Library Card," which can be redeemed at any city library for a real library card and book lists for beginning to read.
"We chose to distribute the `Best Beginnings' material through Holy Cross Hospital for a number of reasons," McLaughlin says. "Holy Cross has a strong, family-centered maternity program. In addition, one of their mission outreach activities is a hospitalwide program to encourage literacy. That says a lot about their concern with the quality of life for each individual."
Besides co-sponsoring the "Best Beginnings" program, Holy Cross has been involved in other literacy projects. Sister Joan Marie Steadman, vice president for Mission Services, says that "As a result of our literacy action day, which was part of Mission Awareness Week, five literacy tutors who are hospital employees have undergone training." This is only a starting place, since other tutors will also be trained and will become resource teachers in the Salt Lake area.
Citing research studies to substantiate the worth of reading to young children, McLaughlin encourages families of all ages to participate in the Year of the Lifetime Reader. Collaborating with Holy Cross Hospital to provide information at the earliest age confirms their belief that "Just as a child's body is fed, so, too, should be his mind."
The Deseret News offers congratulations to the Salt Lake City Library and Holy Cross Hospital for an exciting beginning to reading and to a yearlong project for readers of all ages.
Certificates of recognition
As part of the Year of the Lifetime Reader, the Newspaper in Education program of the Deseret News is offering certificates of recognition honoring outstanding reading programs. You're invited to nominate projects and teachers, volunteers, bookstores, writers of all kinds and libraries involved in such activities.
When you find projects you feel are especially effective (don't limit yourself to the ones listed in today's stories), we would like to know about them. Send a brief description, along with a photo, if available,
Year of the Lifetime Reader
Attention: Marilou Sorensen
P.O. Box 1257
Salt Lake City, UT 84110.
Include name, address and phone numbers where you can be reached.