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VOL. 127 | NO. 33 | Friday, February 17, 2012

Org Asks What Memphis is Reading

By Aisling Maki

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Literacy Mid-South has kicked off a Twitter campaign to get Memphians talking about their favorite books.

“What are you reading, Memphis?” encourages people to tweet about books they’re reading, using the hashtag #ReadMemphis.

“Part of our goal is to really get the community engaged,” said Literacy Mid-South executive director Kevin Dean. “It’s not just about teaching people to read; it’s about getting our community more involved in the learning process – for themselves, their kids, and everybody around them. We need to be a more educated city. We’re trying to promote the concept of learning and reading in our community and making it fun.”

The purpose of the campaign, which runs from now through March 31, is to promote the upcoming Read Across America Month in March.

Throughout the campaign, Literacy Mid-South staff will initiate conversations on Twitter about specific authors, suggested books, new releases and events pertaining to literacy and Read Across America Month.

International Paper Co., Give 365 and Homewood Suites by Hilton Hotels are partnering with Literacy Mid-South to implement book drops at area schools in March.

“Read Across America month is a great opportunity to share all things literacy with the community,” Dean said.

The campaign kicked off Wednesday, Feb. 15, and almost immediately, Memphians began tweeting about their favorite books.

“It’s exciting to watch these connections happen,” Dean said.

Students from Memphis College of Art have painted a Dr. Seuss theme featuring the #ReadMemphis hashtag on the windows of Literacy Mid-South’s building at 902 S. Cooper St. in Midtown.

And The Booksellers at Laurelwood also will promote the campaign by giving a basket of books to one lucky tweeter chosen at random.

The local, independent bookstore at 387 Perkins Road Extended will also promote the campaign hashtag and feature a special display of books recommended by Literacy Mid-South staff and volunteers. Throughout the campaign, a percentage of sales from those books will benefit Literacy Mid-South.

And on Thursday, Feb. 23, Germantown Community Theatre, 3037 Forest Hill Irene Road, will host a special production of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” with all proceeds benefiting Literacy Mid-South.

Literacy Mid-South is a nonprofit dedicated to maximizing the impact of child and adult literacy and learning through advocacy, research, family literacy workshops and resource development.

The organization estimates between 20 and 30 percent of adults in the Memphis metropolitan area are functionally illiterate, which affects every aspect of their lives – from finding sustainable employment to taking charge of their health and the health of their families to having the capacity to assert their legal rights.

Literacy Mid-South each year provides basic education for about 500 low-literate adults at its Midtown office and other locations throughout the city. The organization makes use of more than 250 trained volunteers who provide private and group tutoring during morning and evening sessions.

In addition to the adult-learning program, the organization trains community volunteers for its academy tutoring project, which provides support at five Memphis charter schools.

And the organization’s Family Literacy Program teaches parents how to build a supportive literacy environment in the home. Working in partnership with schools, early-education programs and social services agencies, Literacy Mid-South leads parent workshops at more than 40 partner sites annually.

The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. is a supporter of Literacy Mid-South.

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