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African-American Read-In Set for Saturday

Jan. 29, 2009 – African-American literature will be celebrated by the nationwide African American Read-In, which will be observed locally from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Florence Williams Public Library in Christiansted.
"The goal is to make the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities," Sharon Charles, president of the St. Croix Reading Council, said in a press release issued Wednesday.
The event includes a tour of the library for students and processing of library cards, followed with readings by Winifred "Oyoko" Loving from her book "My Name Is Freedom." Loving, a poet, is a retired St. Croix educator.
The entire community, including schools and individuals, is invited to attend.
Zoraida Jacobs, the Education Department's reading campaign coordinator for St. Croix, said that because reading levels are so low, the focus on reading will help people get ahead.
"To learn to read means you will get ahead in school and have a better chance of getting into college, being successful and having a career," Jacobs said.
She said both children and adults have trouble reading, but practicing helps improve skills.
More than a million people across the country are expected to participate in the African American Read-In. The 20th annual Read-In runs from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28, the first year the Read-In covers the entire month.
Participating readers include all ethnic groups from 49 states, the West Indies, and African countries.
Organizers urge schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations and interested citizens to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting by coordinating Read-Ins in their communities.
The Read-Ins can be held on any day throughout the entire month. "Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers," Charles said.
To be counted as participants, select books authored by African Americans and report your results by submitting them to the 2009 African American Read-In Report Card. Visit www.ncte.org to report your reading.
The event is sponsored by the Black Caucus of National Council of Teachers of English and has also been endorsed by the International Reading Association.
Locally, the Read-In is sponsored by the Education Department's Division of Curriculum, Assessment and Technology and in collaboration with the St. Croix Library Association, the St. Croix Reading Council and the Friends of St. Croix Public Libraries.
Jacobs, who has a reading show on WSTX radio at 8 a.m. Saturdays, asked that books clubs contact her so she can compile a directory. Call her at 773-1095, extension 7045.
For more information on the African American Read-In, visit www.ncte.org or call Curriculum, Assessment and Technology Director Sarah Mahurt at 773-1095 or Charles at 778-5286 or 332-6633.

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