FOLUSA-Verizon SuperPages Partnership Promotes the Importance of Literacy from Birth

DALLAS and PHILADELPHIA - In a nationwide literacy effort to encourage parents to read aloud to their infants, Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) and Verizon SuperPages have joined together to deliver 50,000 books to newborns and their mothers. Verizon SuperPages awarded FOLUSA a $238,000 grant to implement the infant literacy program, called Books for Babies, in 10 U.S. cities over the next 12 months.

"This is a critically important project for FOLUSA," said Sally G. Reed, executive director for FOLUSA. "Children who lack interaction with books in their earliest years enter kindergarten far behind their peers, and many never catch up. I am grateful that Verizon SuperPages recognizes this and is willing to make a significant investment in these children and their futures."

The first Books for Babies delivery was made today at Phoenix's Maricopa Medical Center, where 5,000 babies are born each year. Verizon SuperPages has previously supported this type of program in Richmond, Va., Philadelphia, Honolulu and San Antonio, Texas.

"Verizon SuperPages knows how vital early interaction with books and reading is for healthy childhood development," said Janet Stevens, group vice president - public affairs for Verizon Information Services. "Given FOLUSA's excellent reputation and proven track record, we are confident that the Books for Babies program will touch families in a meaningful way and encourage parents to be their children's first and most important teachers."

The 50,000 Books for Babies kits, which are available in English and in Spanish, include the baby faces book Peek-A-Boo! by Roberta Grobal Intrater, a "prescription" urging parents to read to their babies, a "Baby's First Library Card" and supplementary information with reading tips for new parents. Each package will be dispensed at the hospital before the mother and baby leave. Health care providers will underscore with new parents the importance of reading aloud for the long-term health and development of their child.

FOLUSA will also be working with local Friends of the Library groups in the selected cities to enrich the kits with information about the local library's collections and services to encourage parents to visit their local library and borrow additional books.

FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries U.S.A.)

Friends of Libraries U.S.A. provides networking opportunities and educational support for local Friends of Libraries groups across the country. Over 2,000 Friends groups, libraries and individuals belong to FOLUSA representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. Founded in 1975, FOLUSA's mission is to motivate and support local Friends groups in their efforts to preserve and strengthen libraries, and to create awareness and appreciation of library services.

Verizon Information Services and SuperPages.com

Verizon Information Services is the world's leading print and online directory publisher, a content provider for communications products and services, and the largest publisher of Hispanic directories in the U.S. With operations in 14 countries and annual revenues of more than $4.3 billion, Verizon Information Services publishes 1,200 U.S. Verizon SuperPages directories and nearly 400 international directories with a total circulation of approximately 156 million copies worldwide.

Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services produces and markets SuperPages.comm., the Internet's #1 online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com receives as many as 16 million visits and 10 million unique visitors a month and powers directory services on MSN, InfoSpace, Excite, Lycos, Univision.com, Terra.com, YupiMSN.com, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, BigFoot, Tripod and Angelfire as well as more than 2,500 affiliate Web sites.

The company supports computer literacy with philanthropic programs and through the Enlighten Me and Internet Learning Tutor sites on SuperPages.com. Enlighten Me is a fun site where children and their caregivers go to read, learn and explore. The Internet Learning Tutor is specifically designed for adults who are just learning their way around the Internet.

Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon Foundation last year awarded 22,000 grants totaling more than $70 million to nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force.