WNBA promotes literacy in a variety of ways on the international, national, and local level. Brief descriptions of WNBA's organization-wide and chapter-based initiatives are provided.
U.S. Fund for UNICEF
As a proactive UN DPI/NGO since 1959, WNBA's national focus is on the U.S. Fund for UNICEF--and by extension, UNICEF itself. This decision makes sense considering the efforts of WNBA's former DPI/NGO representative Claire Friedland during preparations for the International Year of the Child Conference in 1978. It is ratified by WNBA's current emphasis on children's and YA literacy. Known as the "citizens' voice" for UNICEF in the United States, the mission of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is "to promote the survival, protection, and development of all children worldwide through fundraising, advocacy, and education." Most familiarly, it supports UNICEF by selling greeting cards and gift products, and by encouraging children (and adults!) to "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF" in October (National UNICEF Month), and supports other fund-raising efforts throughout the year; The U. S. Fund keeps Americans informed about the abhorrent conditions facing the world's children; urges Congress to support "children-first" programs; and raises awareness among youth through school and campus visits, and educational materials for teachers.
One of WNBA's objectives is to create awareness of UNICEF "high-priority" programs such as the "Back to School" and women's literacy textbook initiatives in Afghanistan, and the "Operation Child Survive" emergency effort in Iraq through distribution of informational pieces to WNBA members. Learn more about UNICEF (www.unicef.org) and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF (www.unicefusa.org).
Library of Congress Reading Promotion Partners
WNBA is a Reading Promotion Partner with The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook). The Center for the Book was established in 1977 to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy.
Within the Library, the Center is a focal point for celebrating the legacy of books and the printed word. Outside the Library, the Center works closely with other organizations, such as WNBA, to foster understanding of the vital role of books, reading, libraries and literacy in society.
Now numbering more than 95, the Center's Reading Promotion Partners are mostly national or international organizations that promote books, reading, literacy or libraries. To review the full list of Partners, visit www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/partners.html.
Since 1984, 50 states and the District of Columbia have established statewide book centers that are affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Each state center uses themes established by the Center and develops activities that promote its' state's book culture and literary heritage, sponsoring projects and hosting events that call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries. A full list of State Center Affiliates is provided at www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/stacen.html.
Visit the main Library of Congress web page at www.loc.gov. Learn more about The Center for the Book and its affiliates, partners, themes, projects, news, events, and publications at www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook.
Read Across America
This year the WNBA joins the National Education Association to celebrate a Read Across America Day of "Seussentennial" proportions as we commemorate Dr. Seuss' 100th birthday on March 2, 2004!
To honor the good doctor and celebrate the fun and value of reading, NEA, with support from its partners like the WNBA, and NEA affiliates and members, will bring America under one hat "the famous red and white stovepipe of the Cat" for a flurry (or furry) of reading excitement on March 2nd.
To accomplish this mass bedecking, NEA is encouraging events all across the country where groups who typically wear hats for their profession or for fun can exchange their regular hat for a reading hat "the red and white stovepipe of the Cat" and spend time reading to or with children.
Now in its seventh year, NEA's Read Across America Day generates enthusiasm for reading nationwide and focuses the country's attention on how important it is to motivate children to read in addition to helping them master basic skills. The 2.7 million members of the National Education Association are committed to advancing the cause of public education and driving home the message that reading is important and fun! Reading opens the doors to achievement, and Read Across America Day celebrations "whether large or small" are crucial building blocks toward making the joys of reading an integral part of every child's life.
At www.nea.org/readacross you'll find national, state and local contacts, program information, book lists, games, event ideas and an electronic version of the Read Across America Resource Kit to help you plan for the March 2nd festivities and to get involved in year-round reading fun in your community.
WNBA Chapter Initiatives
The Boston chapter of the Women's National Book Association's Teen Literacy Outreach Project provides books and writing supplies to adolescents in group homes, shelters, and detention centers in the greater-Boston area. Since the program's inception in 1999, we have focused primarily on building a library for the Metro Center, a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center for males and females from 12- to 19-years old.
When WNBA/Boston became involved with the program, the only out-of-class activities available were television, board or computer games, outdoor basketball scrimmages (when weather allowed), or crafts (if offered). The teens had little to read other than magazines or an occasional paperback. No library existed. Thanks to the generosity of Boston chapter members and friends, the Metro Center now has hundreds of books, writing supplies, and a library cart.
Boston chapter member Susan Manning, who initiated and coordinates the Teen Literacy Outreach Project, is currently forging relationships with additional programs for teens who do not have the normal resources of a public or private school. The project continues the Boston Chapter's long-standing commitment to supporting literacy. In the past, the chapter has donated to reading readiness and other programs sponsored by charities and public libraries in the Boston area.
The Nashville chapter has strong ties to BOOK 'EM!, RIF, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, NashvilleREAD, and other literacy agencies.
During the 1997-1998 membership year, the Nashville chapter sponsored several public programs to promote reading to area children. "Books change the world" was the theme of several Saturday discussions at local libraries, and successful Nashville women from different walks of life shared the many ways that reading had made a difference in their lives.
The Nashville chapter has been a big supporter of BOOK 'EM! since its inception in 1989. Since then, WNBA members have enthusiastically donated hundreds of books, given generous amounts of money to support our programs, and served countless hours as reading volunteers in local classrooms on a regular basis, as well as during Read Me Week in the spring. The back page (above the fold) of our newsletter is devoted just to BOOK 'EM! news.
The New York City Chapter of WNBA has been actively involved since the mid-1990s to help promote reading and literacy throughout the city. Whether acting as individual tutors or guest speakers, or by donating books and other educational materials, members of the chapter have sustained a lively, ongoing dialogue about reading and writing skills with those who represent schools, tutorial programs, and community groups.
The chapter has focused on providing private tutors to the East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP), which services 450 students (K-12) annually throughout New York City. With the help of the Children's Book Council (www.cbcbooks.org), the chapter was also able to donate hundreds of books to the EHTP library. For the past forty years, EHTP has been instrumental in placing its students in excellent colleges and seeing them through, even past college graduation--students who at one time were determined to drop out of high school. See their program at www.ehtp.org
In another educational program, the NYC chapter worked for two years with PENCIL by sending members into public school classrooms to speak on special topics and take questions and comments from their student audiences. Long-range projects also emerged from these occasions, centering on elementary and middle school students.
Finally, members are taking advantage of an opportunity to volunteer as readers to disabled children and adults at the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) facility. UCP carefully coordinates outside activities and learning opportunities with the specialized needs of their students in order to maximize learning benefits. Their programs and services appear at www.ucpnyc.org.
WNBA's Washington chapter supports various literacy programs and causes in the Washington, DC area, including The Reading Connection (www.thereadingconnection.org), a literacy outreach program for children in housing crisis, and Turning the Page (turningthepage.org), an organization that provides resources to support the role of public schools in improving the reading skills and educational well-being of DC schoolchildren.
The Washington chapter also co-sponsors programs with The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/), which promotes books, reading, libraries, and literacy, and participates in the Library's annual National Book Festival (www.loc.gov/bookfest) to promote reading in the Festival's Let's Read America Pavilion.