Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reading Is Fundamental Launches “Book People Unite,”

Reading Is Fundamental Launches “Book People Unite,”

A National Campaign Sparking a Movement for Children’s Literacy

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the country, is launching “Book People Unite,” a bold awareness campaign to focus a spotlight on children’s literacy nationwide. The campaign, anchored by a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) with beloved book characters and a star-studded soundtrack, aims to spark a movement to put books in the hands of children who need them most. The PSA is a collaboration among RIF, the Library of Congress and the Ad Council and was created by Mother New York.

In 2011, RIF provided 14 million books to 4 million children to keep as their own. Access to books continues to be one of the single most important factors in a student’s success, but far too many of America’s children do not have this most basic resource for learning.

There are 16 million children living in poverty in the United States, the highest number in two decades. Consider this:

In low-income neighborhoods, there is only 1 book for every 300 children.
By the time children from low-income families start kindergarten, they are a year behind their more affluent peers in literacy skills.
Children who enter kindergarten behind their peers are three to four times more likely to drop out of school long-term.
Only 32 percent of 4th graders read at a proficient level and 34 percent can’t even read at the most basic.
Less than half of all families read to their kindergarteners every day.

“While many children are falling further and further behind, so are their chances for a successful future. It is clear we don’t just have an issue to solve, we have a movement to ignite,” said Carol Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “One book can spark a lifetime of ambition and we are asking the nation to join us in building a literate America where all kids can explore, dream and achieve. Together, we can realize our vision of a literate America.”

Star Power for the Love of Reading
The PSA makes history by showcasing all at once several of America’s most beloved book—Curious George, Clifford, Madeline, and Babar, to name a few. They travel beyond their storybook pages to the beat of a new, original song, “Book People Unite,” featuring donated talent and produced by Grammy award-winning band The Roots. Celebrity vocalists Jack Black, Chris Martin (Coldplay), John Legend, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Jason Schwartzman, Consequence, Regina Spektor, Nate Ruess (fun.), Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) and Melanie Fiona lend their voices to the anthem. And Emmy award-winning actor, LeVar Burton, makes a special cameo.

“I have witnessed time and again the transformative power of books. Whether it’s a bound book or an e-book, reading helps children overcome obstacles—opening doors to a wider world of experiences,” said Burton, host and producer of the beloved children’s program Reading Rainbow.

The PSA was directed by Rafael Fernandez with Green Dot Films and features specially-crafted puppets by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and animated characters brought to life by Curious Pictures. Per the Ad Council’s model, the PSA will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

“The montage of book characters come alive in these heartwarming PSAs to motivate parents to establish positive reading practices with their children,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council.

“We hope this entertaining campaign—combining beloved children’s book characters and world-renowned musical talent—inspires families to establish a lifelong love of reading,” said Gayle Osterberg, director of communications at the Library of Congress.

Additional components of the campaign include online banner ads, radio spots, print and outdoor ads asking viewers to visit BookPeopleUnite.org to join the movement by declaring themselves a “book person” through an online pledge. Each person who takes the pledge will receive a free download of the “Book People Unite” anthem and action tools to ignite a reading renaissance in their own backyard.

A Bold New Commitment to Building a Literate America

The multi-channel campaign, developed by Mother New York, is part of a comprehensive rebranding strategy to catapult RIF and its mission back into the public spotlight.

As RIF celebrates its 45th anniversary, it is a critical time in the organization’s history. RIF lost its federal funding—$24.8 million, representing 80 percent of its operating budget—in the last budget cycle. Despite this funding loss, RIF is not wavering in its commitment to put books in the hands of kids who need them most. Through a corps of 450,000 volunteers and thousands of generous supporters, as well as a longtime partnership with publishers and book distributors, RIF has a highly effective and efficient model distributing books to children across the nation. Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s Inc., has raised more than $21 million for RIF since 2004. Their support provided 3.6 million books to more than 1.2 million children last year alone and helped launch RIF’s rebranding initiative along with the Book People Unite campaign.

“RIF has a long history of inspiring children to read and achieve, and we’re thrilled to see their reenergized image and this bold campaign take off to get more people connected to this critical cause,” said Martine Reardon, Chief Marketing Officer at Macy’s. “We’ve declared ourselves ‘Book People’ and encourage our customers and readers of all ages to do the same.”

For more information on Book People Unite and to take the pledge, visit BookPeopleUnite.org.

About Reading Is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) delivers free books and literacy resources to children and families in underserved communities in the United States. By giving children the opportunity to own a book, RIF inspires them to become lifelong readers and achieve their full potential. As the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, RIF has placed 400 million books in the hands of more than 35 million children since it was established in 1966. Learn more and help RIF provide books to kids who need them most, visit RIF.org.

About the Library of Congress

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. The largest library in the world, the Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov. The Library of Congress is the home of the Center for the Book, a major national force for reading and literacy promotion and sponsor of the award-winning Read.gov website and National Book Festival each September in Washington, D.C.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council is a non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit www.adcouncil.org.

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Media Contact:

Ashley Lengen
Weber Shandwick for Reading Is Fundamental

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