Literacy Mid-South is gearing up for a whirlwind of activity next month.
The national Read Across America event happens in March, and Literacy Mid-South will have special events, book giveaways, author visits and more throughout the month. The literacy organization also will be hosting a month-long “virtual book club” on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Heather Nordtvedt, Literacy Mid-South community relations manager, said the group wants to use those virtual outlets to engage the entire city in one communal reading experience by everyone focusing on the same books.
“If you use our #ReadMemphis hashtag during the month of March, you'll be eligible to win prizes, including a Kindle Fire, baskets from The Booksellers at Laurelwood, and Literacy Mid-South swag bags,” she said. “Through our book giveaways, we'll (also) be distributing over 1,000 books to Mid-South children at Title I schools, including Springdale Elementary, Peabody Elementary and Kingsbury Middle.”
Sponsors for the month of Read Across America events include the International Paper Foundation, the Dollar General Foundation, Buckman and the Booksellers at Laurelwood.
The group’s previous book of choice for the month was read by more than 5,000 people, and this year Literacy Mid-South has picked two books for March. They are “Neversink,” by local author Barry Wolverton, and “Life is So Good,” by Richard Glaubman and George Dawson.
“To wrap up Read Across America Month, we're hosting a Literacy Leader Awards finale event on Tuesday, March 25,” said Nordtvedt, about the event that will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rhodes College. “We're currently accepting nominations for community organization of the year, outstanding education volunteer, and person of the year. Winners will be announced at the event, which is free and open to the public.”
Other things on the group’s plate in March include a “Reading Flash Mob” at Overton Park that will kick off the month. The event will be held March 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the group’s citywide reading campaign and involves participants simply heading to the park with things like a picnic blanket, friends, lunch and a book.
Special prizes will be awarded to anyone spotted reading “Neversink” and “Life is So Good.” To know exactly where the flash mob will be, Literacy Mid-South recommends following the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Separate from the March events, 2014 will be a milestone pretty much all year for Literacy Mid-South, partly because it’s the group’s 40th anniversary.
Other events on the horizon include the group’s first-ever book festival, which will be a major event for book lovers held at the Memphis Botanic Garden in September. Literacy Mid-South executive director Kevin Dean said the group will look to draw a regional audience as well as local, regional and national authors.
The free festival will be stocked with expected features such as panel discussions and speaking events, plus a book sale and the presence of emerging authors selling their books.
Other changes for the organization include the group’s adult learning program adding book clubs. Literacy Mid-South also is launching a volunteer council that will give volunteers representation on its board of directors and allow them to make recommendations to board members.