PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Amidst grins, games and the tempest of turning pages, a new statewide literacy initiative known as Books Are Wings launches during two events held this afternoon.
The goal of the ambitious pilot program, originally the brainchild of Rep. Elizabeth M. Dennigan, is to distribute 100,000 books over the next seven months to elementary school children in Rhode Island who might not ordinarily have access to them. From April through October, new and used books will be collected and donated to children at Books Are Wings events held at libraries throughout the state.
"I began this project to give kids access to books that they might not have otherwise," said Representative Dennigan, who represents District 82 in East Providence and Pawtucket. "I am thrilled that the Books Are Wings program by going statewide will now have the opportunity to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of children statewide."
SuperPages by Verizon (formerly Verizon Yellow Pages) is sponsoring the seven-month-long program in collaboration with Citadel Communications Corporation -- which is coordinating this multi-faceted program, the Rhode Island public library system and the Rhode Island public school system.
Tuesday's events began at 3:30 p.m. with a sponsor's reception in the State Room of the Rhode Island State House. Todd Sanislow, Rhode Island general manager for Verizon Information Services, which publishes Verizon's phone book, SuperPages, and online directory and shopping Web site, SuperPages.com, Citadel Communications Corporation employees, elected officials, teachers, librarians and elementary school students from East Providence will be celebrated at the event.
"Literacy touches everyone throughout Rhode Island, and throughout the country. As part of our mandate to be the premier print and on-line directory provider, Verizon Information Services is helping to build literate communities," said Sanislow. "Books Are Wings is a natural adjunct to other literacy programs in Rhode Island like the BookPass -- a Volunteers in Providence Schools program - supported by Verizon SuperPages and SuperPages.com."
At 5:30 p.m., the celebration continues with the first Books Are Wings program night at the Weaver Library in East Providence. Providence College basketball star John Linehan kicks off the festivities, which features free books and prizes, music, a dance contest, face painting and refreshments for children and their families.
The party celebrating literacy is just the first of many to be held in public libraries across the state. Between April and June, and again from September through October, up to 50 libraries in Rhode Island will hold weekly Books Are Wings parties, where children will receive free books and special "no homework" coupons they can bring to school.
During the program, people will be asked to donate new or used books at their local libraries, which will in turn be distributed at the weekly Books Are Wings program nights.
For three years, Representative Dennigan has coordinated the program out of her Rumford home with help from her four daughters and various volunteers, who collected, sorted and distributed the books to schools, doctor's offices and summer camps.
"I would like to sincerely thank Verizon for helping the Books Are Wings program blossom and reach its full potential," said Representative Dennigan. "Now children from all across the Ocean State will be able to discover the joys of reading."
Verizon Information Services is a world leading print and online directory publisher and a content provider for communications products and services. The largest directory publisher in the world, Verizon has annual revenues of more than $4.1 billion and employs more than 11,000 people. The company provides sales, publishing and other related services for nearly 2,300 directory titles in 48 states and the District of Columbia and 17 countries outside the U.S. This includes more than 1,600 Verizon directory titles with a total circulation of approximately 110 million copies in the U.S. and 37 million copies internationally.
Verizon Information Services also produces and markets SuperPages.com, the Internet's preeminent online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com has received up to 7.7 million visits and 3.4 million unique visitors per month, and is the exclusive Yellow Pages provider on Excite, Lycos, AOL Service, AOL.com, Digital City, HotBot, and BigFoot. Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), which was formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.