Monday, March 20, 2006

Get Caught Reading!

This is a test (and you will never guess!): Tell me what do George Foreman, Gloria Estefan, Pat Schroeder, The Miami Heat, First Lady Laura Bush, Alicia Keys, Patty Duke, Donald Duck, Mary Kate and Ashley, Vernon Jordan, Derek Jeter, Michael Bloomberg and Dolly Parton all have in common?

Give up? OK, the answer is they have all volunteered their time and donated their photo to the Get Caught Reading campaign! The Association of American Publishers, has a program called Get Caught Reading, designed to inspire reading. If you check out the website you’ll see the posters.
Continuing to create new readers was the subject of the AAP Annual meeting this year, with challenging negative trends on reading in all sectors and ages from Dana Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts and little positive to report from U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings either.

But there were also some truly inspiring stories from Dr. Barry Zuckerman, MD, CEO of Reach out and Read and Jane Hileman, CEO of American Reading Company. Much like romance readers, these reading advocates shared an indomitable spirit of optimism despite all odds, and an unshakable faith that believing—caring, trying—can and does work miracles. Much as we all know love does.

I know many of our authors contribute their time and expertise to literacy. One of the things that we discussed at the AAP was the idea of creating a “Literacy Day” that would allow us all to work together to help build awareness and potentially build some ties between the many literacy organizations. Right now, there are many organizations, but nothing to pull them together or share best practices or help leverage success. Making our nation and the world a more literate place is a goal we all share, and it seems like we could do more to work together on this.

An award recipient mentioned in his acceptance speech that his real “competition” wasn’t another publisher or entertainment option—it was the disengaged, lazy and uninvolved person. He said that rather than compete with his peers, he’d rather join his colleagues in an effort to convert more non-readers to readers. I thought that was a great way to look at one's goals—and rethink your allies! Cute

While I think of reading as a wonderful gift, it really is a basic survival skill--something every adult and child should be able to master. Let me know what you think of a Literacy Day and if you have any thoughts or suggestions I can take back to the AAP.

Just to let you know my family believes in starting that reading habit early, here is a photo of my brother Bill reading one of his favorite Luna titles to his four month old son--who is clearly quite intrigued by the story! Bill is a big fan of Luna...and of Gold Eagle's Mac Bolan. Maybe we'll wait until Will is a few months older before Bill introduces him to The Executioner series....

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