Verizon to Launch 'Season's Readings' Literacy Campaign Thursday with Event Featuring White Plains Mayor Delfino

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Verizon, America's literacy champion, will mark the Westchester area kick-off its "Season's Readings" national employee book drive and reading campaign Thursday, Dec. 13, with a reading by White Plains Mayor Joseph Delfino of "The Polar Express" to a group of 25 pre-school children.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. at the Thomas H. Slater Community Center, located at 2 Fisher Court in White Plains.

Throughout the holiday season, Verizon's 256,000 employees nationwide are being encouraged to donate a new or gently used book to the campaign and to pledge that they will read aloud to a child during the holiday season and throughout the coming year.

"It is my hope that all our employees will play an active role in Season's Readings," said James Joedecke, Verizon president for the company's Capital Region, which includes Westchester County. "Whether it's a donation of a book or donation of time, the children in the communities we serve will benefit from the efforts of Verizon employees."

To promote the importance of reading aloud to children, Verizon has released the Verizon Season's Readings Ten Great Holiday Books to Read to Your Kids developed by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)

NCFL also has provided Tips and Recommendations for Reading to Your Children and a list of 15 children's books that are excellent for year-round reading. Both the reading tips and book list are separated into three age categories -- birth to toddlers, three to five years, and six to eight years (beginning readers).

"The holiday season is a time for us to focus on our families and the people that mean the most to us," said Patricia Rajala, executive director of the Literacy Volunteers of Westchester County, who also will speak at the event. "I can't think of a more nurturing activity during this time than reading to a child."

Rajala noted that the White Plains Coalition for Literacy and Economic Self Sufficiency is a recent recipient of a $25,000 grant from Verizon Foundation. The coalition is a partnership of the Literacy Volunteers of Westchester County, The White Plains Early Learning Center/Head Start, Services and Educational Resources of Westchester, and the Slater Community Center.

The Verizon Telephone Pioneers, a group of Verizon employees and retirees, also will donate 200 copies of "The Polar Express" to the Early Learning and Slater Centers.

The tips for reading aloud and the holiday and age-specific book lists can serve as a catalyst for parents, grandparents, siblings and others in emphasizing the importance of developing literacy skills in young people. These also make for a helpful guide when choosing book titles for holiday gifts.

All Verizon employees will receive a copy of the NCFL lists and tips to assist them in selecting a book to donate and in fulfilling their read-aloud pledge.

The Verizon Season's Readings program is partnering with Scholastic Inc., the largest children's book publisher and distributor in the world. Verizon employees will be able to purchase Scholastic's children's books at their work locations and donate them as part of the reading campaign to literacy organizations and schools.

"We are extremely pleased to provide support and resources to the Verizon Season's Readings program," said Karen Proctor, community affairs director for Scholastic. "Reading to young children has an immediate impact on a child's early language and literacy skills and later on helps with reading comprehension and even overall success in school."

Season's Readings is part of Verizon's overall commitment to leading the effort to increase U.S. literacy levels. Through its signature Verizon Reads program and the Verizon Literacy Network, Verizon works to increase community and corporate awareness, raise funds, encourage collaboration among literacy providers, and engage employees in supporting literacy programs. For more information on Verizon Reads, visit www.verizonreads.net.

About the National Center for Family Literacy

The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) works to ensure that all families at the lowest ends of the literacy and economic continuum will have opportunities to expand their education and improve their economic and social well-being through quality family literacy programs. NCFL provides leadership for family literacy development nationwide and promotes policies at the national and state level in support of that endeavor. Throughout the country, NCFL delivers dynamic, research-based training and technical assistance to more than 2,000 educators and administrators each year, and develops new family literacy practices that address the needs of families in a changing social and economic landscape. In an ongoing effort to create and support systems that help sustain family literacy programs, NCFL conducts research to expand the knowledge base of family literacy. For more information visit www.famlit.org.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.