Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Norfolk Public Library Launch Reading Program with James Earl Jones

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Norfolk Public Library Launch Reading Program with James Earl Jones

Jones Reads to Children to Kick-Off Program Encouraging Visits to the Library

May 16, 2000


Diane Buben/The Tierney Group,

Tia Towe/Norfolk Public Library,
757-664-7323, ext. 43757

Stephanie Hobbs/Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages,

Norfolk, Va. - Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and the Norfolk Public Library (NPL) today launched the "Take Me to the Library" program, encouraging adults to bring children ages K-3 to visit their local libraries. Third graders from Jacox Elementary School were captivated by the voice of actor, and Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages spokesperson, James Earl Jones, as he read Grandfather's Journey, in the children's reading room of the Kirn Memorial Library.

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages funded the program with a $20,000 grant, one of the few corporate sponsorships of NPL's activities. This donation will make the program possible, providing access to necessary resources. Literacy is a corporate-wide mission for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages.

"Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages shares the Norfolk Public Library's focus on literacy and the need to encourage children at a young age to learn about libraries," said Mary Jo Howe, vice president, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. "We hope to foster a love of reading through this program with the help of the Norfolk Public Library. As a continual advocate of community literacy programs, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages finds it necessary to do as much as we can to create fun and educational programs such as this one. It is our hope that the program's excitement will generate additional interest in this city initiative."

"Norfolk is happy to see the launch of this exciting program for our library system," said Sally Reed, director, Norfolk Public Library. "We hope by building a familiarity with our libraries that children will feel at home there and discover the joy of reading."

"Take Me to the Library" is a program for children within the Norfolk school district in which they are given a "library passport" and guidelines for a four-visit plan encouraging visits to the library. The passport is stamped each time, creating a "library journey" that fully involves the children along the way, with incentives such as books. The goals of the program are to encourage parents, grandparents and older siblings to take children to the library, nurturing the lifelong habit of going to the library and the importance of reading.

The four visits include:

  • 1st Visit - Meet a librarian, receive library and membership cards and initiate the program passport.
  • 2nd Visit - Visit the Norfolk Public Library web site, and browse for 10 minutes with help from a librarian.
  • 3rd Visit - Attend a library program. Children attend one of four special event programs featuring professional performers who focus on value clarification and character education. These include: "You're Such a Character," "Growing Pains," "I Can Do It," and "The Attitude Cop and the Seriously Delirious Circus."
  • 4th Visit - Read for 10 minutes and receive a certificate of participation.

"Libraries are a child's ticket to imagination and learning, filled with books featuring endless journeys and adventures just waiting to be opened," said James Earl Jones, spokesperson for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. "The 'Take Me to the Library' program provides the gateway for children to discover this resource, and create a lifelong love of reading."

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, in his continuous effort to support literacy for the City of Norfolk, was also on hand to kick-off the program. In the past, he has supported the Norfolk Public Library's efforts to "Create a City of Readers." This campaign encourages the love and active pursuit of learning, beginning at birth and continuing through a lifetime. The hope is to create both literate and technologically literate citizens. The library creates this through the variety of free literacy and cultural based programs as well as computer training available to the community.

THRIVE, a Norfolk Public Library program created for "Educating the Public for the 21st Century," promotes the full spectrum of the city's literacy initiatives - from basic reading skills to sophisticated use of information technology. The "Take Me to the Library Program" encompasses these ideas, exposing children to all of the resources a library has to offer. Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages has helped ensure the continuation of these efforts with the roll-out of the new program.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and one of the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

The Norfolk Public Library (NPL) serves a diverse population of approximately 250,000 residents in Norfolk in addition to citizens and libraries in surrounding cities throughout southeastern Virginia. NPL consists of a central library (Kirn Memorial Library), ten branch libraries, a bookmobile, and the Barron F. Black Homework Center.