Pittsburgh, Pa., — In September GATFPress introduced Benjamin Saves the Books: An Adventure in Words and Wisdom, a unique children’s book, and accompanying community outreach tool in an effort to strengthen children’s literacy skills and promote the value of the printing industry. Now the Graphic Arts Literacy Alliance (GALA) has stepped forward to support the project with a $10,000 grant, aimed at helping local printers foster literacy programs and print awareness in their neighborhoods through grassroots efforts.
Launched in 1989, the Alliance was created through the U.S. Government Printing Office to involve the graphic arts industry in efforts to eliminate illiteracy and support literacy programs. GALA’s grant will enable the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) to reach nearly 3,000 children by distributing 58 project kits (each kit consisting of 50 copies of Benjamin and one copy of its companion Books Are Alive! Literacy Outreach Program Leader’s Guide).
Through the GALA-supported project, GATF is distributing kits through the regional network of affiliate offices associated with its sister organization Printing Industries of America (PIA). The affiliates have been asked to select regional printer partners who in turn will select local school partners. Working together, the printing/publishing professional and a schoolteacher or librarian will use the Leader’s Guide to conduct a literacy outreach program in their local areas.
"One approach might be to conduct a reading session from the children’s book then follow up with a cooperative writing project where a book is written by the whole class and printed by the local printer partner," says Christy Holstead. The author of Benjamin and the Leader’s Guide and GATF’s training curriculums coordinator, she adds, "What better way is there to improve the image of our industry than to open our doors to children and have them see how their written words are converted to printed and bound books?"
"Another idea is to conduct a reading session followed by a discussion about words and pictures on a variety of printed items that children encounter in their everyday life," Holstead suggests. Prior to joining GATF, Ms. Holstead developed instructional materials for teachers and activity guides for children.
GATF also suggests presenting all participating children with a certificate and a copy of the class book. For participating printers, the Leader’s Guide contains press release templates to notify customers and the local community about their goodwill activities. The 140-page Leader’s Guide is filled with ideas for cooperative activities between schools and local printing/publishing businesses, giving everything that is needed to implement the program in the format best suited to the sponsor needs.
"No industry other than the printing and publishing industry stands more to lose from a growing population of people who are unable to read the products the industry produces," says Richard Burnham, owner/president of Graphic Imaging Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. Also GALA co-chair, Mr. Burnham continued, "It therefore is arguable that our industry should bear a larger responsibility to reverse the growing trend of apathy toward printed material."
Mr. Burnham, along with GALA’s other co-chair John R. Werner, publisher and editor of Graphic Communications World in Hartsdale, New York, recently presented the $10,000 grant to GATF executive officers at its board of directors meetings in St. Petersburg, Florida. There Burnham stated, "GALA believes GATF’s Books Are Alive! Literacy Outreach Program can help the printing/publishing industry promote literacy, generate goodwill, and inspire children to embrace print media through reading, writing, and printing awareness activities."
Printers and community leaders interested in the program may contact either Ms. Holstead or Peter Oresick, vice president and director of technical information and education programs, at GATF for more information by phoning 412/741-6860 or emailing [email protected]
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