A Community Effort

This past February, I had the opportunity to return to the beautiful Northwest, specifically, to Lacey, Washington. Was I impressed by their community-wide literacy celebration! Here’s how they describe it:
Lacey Loves to Read (LLTR) is a successful “one city, one author” community partnership that began in 2004 with award-winning Hispanic author Gary Soto. Three key community partners — the City of Lacey, Lacey Timberland Library and the North Thurston Public Schools — collaborate on marketing, fundraising and event planning. It is a year-round planning process that culminates with the author visit in late February. Leading up to that, the community is encouraged to read selected works by one author and discuss them with fellow students, colleagues, family and friends. School and community librarians are active in promoting this event, along with various business sponsors and the media. Events include a student bookmark contest each fall, which gets people excited and familiar with the author. One year we had more than 1,600 entries! February events include community access nights at school libraries, a poetry/book reading of the author’s work at a local coffee shop, student workshops with the author, an educator’s coffee with the author and a community reception and VIP dinner with the author. Each year we estimate this program touches more than 10,000 people on a lean budget of about $32,000 (both cash and in-kind sponsorships). This does not include the countless hours of staff time dedicated to this event. Efforts have paid off in kudos from every author that has visited, including Soto, Jane Yolen, Walter Dean Myers, Naomi Shihab Nye and in 2008 — Pat Mora! We focus on authors who will appeal to readers of all ages. Consequently, these are also often authors of diversity! For more information visit our website.

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