James Earl Jones Plays Stork for Verizon SuperPages

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HONOLULU - Renowned actor and Verizon spokesperson James Earl Jones will make a special delivery on behalf of Verizon SuperPages on Tuesday, May 21, at 10:00 a.m. to new mothers at the maternity ward of The Queen's Medical Center. Jones will relate his personal experiences and love of reading as he helps Verizon SuperPages present special packages to new mothers and a $25,000 check to Read To Me International. The grant will be used to launch Read To Me International's new Books for Babies program designed to educate new mothers about the importance of reading to their babies from the time they are born.

"With Verizon's support, the Books for Babies program will advance us tremendously in our goal to increase literacy levels throughout Hawaii," said Lynne Waihee, president of Read To Me International. "We commend Verizon for its enthusiasm and passion, and the active role the company has taken in our community to promote literacy."

Barbara Mathews, RN, MSN, vice-president, patient care/chief nursing officer, The Queen's Medical Center, said, "On the list of things that are important for new parents, from prenatal vitamins to vaccinations, we must add reading aloud to children. Thanks to Verizon and Read To Me International, we can provide our new moms-nearly 2,000 a year-with resources to support that mission."

"Read To Me International's Books for Babies program helps parents build a foundation for their children's success in school," said Pat Marshall, vice president - marketing of Verizon Information Services. "Statistics show a relationship between children's success on literacy tests and parents' involvement in reading to and with their children. Where involvement is low, children score significantly lower on literacy tests; where involvement is high, children score 28 points above the national average on literacy tests."

The Books for Babies information packet will include an "I Love to Read to My Baby" bag, Read To Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells, a "Born to Read" bib and printed materials for parents about why it is important to read to babies and children.

Verizon Information Services sponsors community outreach programs across the nation designed to increase the literacy of both children and adults and to help people of all ages become computer literate. These programs are part of Verizon's commitment to leading the effort to increase U.S. literacy levels. Recently, Verizon SuperPages.com added two new community and literacy sections to its website: Enlighten Me for kids and the Internet Learning Tutor for adults. Enlighten Me features SuperThinkers, a children's section featuring games and challenges designed to develop critical thinking skills in a fun setting.

Books for Babies

The Books for Babies program helps educate new mothers on the importance of reading to their babies by distributing packets to them before they leave hospitals. Volunteers order the materials, pack them into bags and deliver them to the hospitals, where volunteers and nurses distribute the packets to new mothers. The Books for Babies information packet includes an "I Love to Read to My Baby" bag, Read To Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells, a "Born to Read" bib and printed materials for parents about why it is important to read to babies and children. The program will be implemented on Oahu.

Read To Me International

Read To Me International is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Hawaii in March 1997. The Foundation has a simple yet powerful mission to spread the love and joy of reading aloud to children with the goal that every child will be read to for at least ten minutes every day.

Read To Me believes that in the simple act of reading aloud to young children every day, youngsters will gain the necessary skills to go to school ready to learn. We base our belief in part on the 1985 Commission on Reading's report entitled Becoming a Nation of Readers, which states: "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for the eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Read To Me International promotes reading aloud through media campaigns, educational programs and presentations.

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 16 countries and annual revenues of more than $4.3 billion, Verizon Information Services publishes nearly 1,200 U.S. Verizon SuperPages directories and 400 international directories with a total circulation of approximately 150 million copies worldwide.

Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services produces and markets SuperPages.com, the Internet's #1 online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com receives as many as 12 million visits and 9 million unique visitors a month and powers directory services on MSN, InfoSpace, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, 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. Through its signature Verizon Reads program and the Verizon Literacy Network, Verizon is leading the fight to increase U.S. literacy levels by creating community and corporate awareness, raising funds, encouraging collaboration among literacy providers and engaging employees in supporting literacy programs.

James Earl Jones - Verizon Spokesperson

Mr. Jones first became the voice of Bell Atlantic in 1989 when he was featured in a commercial campaign for Bell Atlantic Directory Services. He proved to be so popular that he was adopted as a corporate-wide spokesperson in 1995. And, when GTE and Bell Atlantic merged in June 2000 to become Verizon Communications, that partnership was extended. Mr. Jones' current activities as corporate spokesperson for Verizon include participation in many literacy and educational events such as today's kick-off of Books for Babies at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu.


Media contact:

Stephanie Hobbs -Verizon SuperPages, 972-453-7016
Liane Kam - Read To Me International, 808-955-7600
Loren Fisher - Tierney Communications, 215-790-4244

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