Pittsburgh, Pa., July 22, 2002 — To instill an appreciation, respect, and value of printed materials such as books, and create awareness of the printing industry to an up-and-coming generation, the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) is calling for printers to participate in National Children’s Book Week.
National Children’s Book Week, November 18–24, 2002, is sponsored by the Children’s Book Council located in New York, New York. Since 1919, educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children’s literature and encouraged the joy of reading. "We would like to add printers to the roster of participants since the future of printing depends upon a literate society," said Christy Holstead, GATF’s training curriculums coordinator. "It’s a natural fit for printers to help strengthen children’s literacy skills and encourage a love for reading and writing."
At Print ’01, GATF premiered a unique book written for children aged 7–10 for this purpose. Benjamin Saves the Books: An Adventure in Words and Wisdom is about a reluctant reader who wishes books "would just disappear." When he magically finds himself in a world void of words and print, he is also denied comic books, baseball cards, games, etc. Benjamin then sets about creating a book. Readers learn an appreciation for the process starting with the importance of reading and writing skills.
"The kids really got the message. They realized the importance of reading skills and the presence of printed material when pondering scenarios like how they would know what cereal to buy if they couldn’t read the box or if the box wasn’t labeled," said David Prentice. The head of sales and marketing at Vaughan Printing Company in Nashville, Tennessee, Prentice participated in a pilot program through Printing Industries of the South (PIAS).
In addition to the reader, GATF offers Books Are Alive! Literacy Outreach Program Leader’s Guide that provides guidelines and suggestions for planning and implementing a program. Sample letters, press releases, reproducible activity sheets, and certificates of participation are included.
"I was relieved to find everything I needed for the program in the Leader’s Guide," said Michelle Waterhouse, another participant in a pilot program through the Printing Industries Association serving Northern Kentucky and Ohio (PIANKO). Waterhouse, who fulfills human resources services at Hopkins Printing in Columbus, Ohio, used sample questions geared to young children to initiate discussions about the importance of reading and printed material. She also photocopied bookmarks in the Leader’s Guide for the children to color in and cut out for a memorable handout.
The pilot program was funded through a $10,000 grant from Graphic Arts Literacy Alliance (GALA) which enabled GATF distributed 58 project kits through the regional network of affiliate offices associated with its sister organization Printing Industries of America (PIA). The affiliates select regional printer partners who in turn selected local school partners.
John Snyder, president of Johnston Printing Company in Dallas, Texas, and the chairman of the board of directors for the Printing & Imaging Association of MidAmerica, learned about the program at a board meeting. He decided to read the entire book to his stepdaughter’s third grade class. "It was easy. I stopped by the school for 20 minutes a day for one week on my way to work. The kids, the teacher, and myself really enjoyed the addition of something different like this in the day."
Snyder sees many benefits to printers participating in this type of community outreach program. Indeed, studies report that companies that participate in "goodwill" programs benefit in several ways. Companies gain exposure beyond their normal target audience of potential customers. This visibility is more powerful than typical advertising. Customer and employee loyalty may increase. By sending the message that the company cares, employees are inspired to care. Overall, the company that participates in a goodwill program can expect to stand apart from the competition when bidding on a job or recruiting an employee.
Prentice hopes the classroom visit will be the first step in building a better community relationship between Vaughan Printing Company and the school. "The kids were so excited about the printing process that we are now considering a tour of the facility. Once they see all the equipment, I’m sure they won’t take for granted a printed piece for a long time."
Waterhouse later ran into a parent of one of the children who she had known for a while. The parent was surprised to know that she worked for a printing company and asked about the program presented to the kids. "I didn’t realize the power this program could have for affecting our image in the community until I ran into that parent. For $150, a printing company can donate 50 books to a classroom and really make an impact."
To participate in National Children’s Book Week, GATF suggests that printers host a 30- to 60-minute read-aloud program followed by a discussion of the importance of reading, writing, and printed material. Printers may also simply donate materials to a school or library group to conduct the program. "We hope this will grow into a national annual event that our industry can adopt as a worthy social cause," said Holstead, who developed the outreach program in her own time.
A single-copy purchase of Benjamin Saves the Books (ISBN 0-88362-354-4), a 104-page soft cover, is available for $7 ($5 for GATF/PIA members). Bulk copies in bundles of 50 for donation to multiple classrooms or large groups are available for $200 ($150 for GATF/PIA members). Request Order No. 1725 for a single copy or Order No. 1725B for bulk copies. Books Are Alive! Literacy Outreach Program Leader’s Guide, the how-to activity guide for printing/publishing professionals and grade school instructors, is available for $35 ($25 for GATF/PIA members). Indicate Order No. 1725L.
Orders may be placed by contacting GATF by phone at 800/662-3916 (U.S. and Canada) or 412/741-5733 (all other countries); fax at 412/741-0609; or online from the GAIN Bookstore. Mail orders to GATF Products, P.O. Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143-1020. Shipping charges will be added.
For more information about the program, contact Christy Holstead, GATF’s training curriculums coordinator, by phoning 412/741-6860 extension 112, or emailing [email protected]
Written inquiries can be faxed to 412/741-2311 or mailed to GATF, 200 Deer Run Road, Sewickley, PA 15143-2600.