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Reading Is Fundamental Awards September Programs of the Month

Programs in Thomasville, Ga., Lexington, Ky., and Fresno, Calif., Recognized for Literacy Efforts

WASHINGTON, September 9, 2009—Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization, has named its three Programs of the Month award recipients for September 2009. These three programs are run by the Garrison-Pilcher Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) (Thomasville, Ga.), the YMCA of Central Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) and the Fresno County Office of Education (Fresno, Calif.).

"These three RIF programs have done outstanding jobs at motivating children to read," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. "Studies show that children who read for pleasure do better in school. RIF is proud to recognize the work of these RIF programs for their achievement in helping children discover the joy and value of reading."

Garrison-Pilcher PTO serves 850 children in 1st and 2nd grades. Darlene Cook, RIF coordinator and media specialist, encourages active participation from the teachers and superintendent. This 30-year-old program excels in engaging children's creativity and imagination. As a class, students wrote books, contributing to the narrative material and illustrations. Garrison-Pilcher students created handmade bookmarks for the public library, which were distributed to visitors who checked out books. These RIF kids also expressed their thanks for RIF books through notes to their principal, senators, and PTO president.

The YMCA of Central Kentucky RIF program provides books to over 1,000 children annually at 11 locations. This RIF program has been providing children in need with free books since 2006. RIF Coordinator Wendi Keene inspires children to view books as windows into new worlds as well as mirrors of their own communities. A talented storyteller herself, Wendi recently led a themed writing workshop where children created their own superhero. This year, Wendi also supported the RIF and Macy's 2009 Book A Brighter Future campaign by sharing with Macy's employees the impact of RIF nationwide and on the children served by YMCA of Central Kentucky.

Fresno County Office of Education serves 12,330 children between pre-K to grade 8, a population that includes 80 percent Hispanic and 20 percent Hmong-speaking students. This unique RIF program has been providing children in need with free books for 15 years. Karen Kourafas coordinates the RIF book distributions and believes storybook characters are great literacy motivators. Characters such as Clifford the Red Dog, Pokey the Puppy, the Cat in the Hat, Froggy, Curious George, and Wild Thing monsters make appearances at RIF literacy parades. The school districts motivate the children by notifying them well in advance what characters will be visiting. Many of this RIF program's sites are in Fresno's rural areas, and the children are amazed and excited by this rare opportunity. At the events, guest readers share books about the visiting characters. Children and parents take photos with the characters and receive a frame that reads LITERACY FOR ALL 2009. The RIF books and photos become treasures for these families.

RIF's Programs of the Month initiative was launched to honor the ongoing efforts of local programs to fulfill the mission of RIF, which depends on programs like these to promote children's literacy. Thanks to thousands of volunteers, children all across the country are discovering the joy of reading.

About RIF
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.5 million children with 16 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at www.rif.org.

Layla Wright-Contreras,
Media Relations Manager

Reading Is Fundamental Awards September Programs of the Month