Mayor Kurt Schmoke delights children from George Washington Elementary School with Dr. Seuss classic

Mayor Kurt Schmoke delights children from George Washington Elementary School with Dr. Seuss classic

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages donates $25,000 to further Baltimore Reads' children's literacy efforts

Feb. 22, 1999

Media contact: Gia Oei, (978) 762-1333

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke gives new voice to the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham, today at 10 a.m. at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on East Pratt Street. Mayor Schmoke will read to children from the George Washington Elementary School who have successfully completed the school's 100 Book Challenge reading program. The reading is part of the celebration of Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages' donation of $25,000 to sponsor the Baltimore Reads Book Bank and the opening of its newest book drop site.

Started in 1992, the Baltimore Reads Book Bank provides new and gently used books to families in Baltimore to instill a love of reading and family learning. The donation from Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages will help increase the number of children's books the bank can distribute to primarily low- income families, increase the visibility of the program and help mobilize volunteers who read to children.

The Baltimore Reads Book Bank has 27 distribution sites located throughout the city, primarily in social service waiting rooms, homeless shelters, community health centers, and schools. In addition, there are 15 collection sites where individuals, companies, and other organizations can drop off books. The newest site being unveiled today is located at the Barnes & Noble in downtown Baltimore where the reading will take place.

"I'm proud to be involved with the efforts of Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages, Baltimore Reads, and Barnes & Noble to focus on children's literacy," said Mayor Schmoke. "Providing the children of Baltimore with opportunities to read at an early age will improve their ability to become lifelong learners. In addition, it will help instill in them a love of reading and lead them to a brighter future."

A recent study showed that 41 percent of fourth graders in the U.S. cannot read at the basic level, and only 28 percent performed at or above the proficient level.

Statistics such as these convinced Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages to create a comprehensive outreach program to support children's literacy programs. The partnership with Baltimore Reads is just one component of the efforts. Last summer, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages sponsored James Earl Jones, actor and Bell Atlantic spokesperson, who read the Maurice Sendak classic children's book, Where The Wild Things Are, to children at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Additionally, the company's efforts include initiatives such as the Book Angel Program, which donates funds to scholastic book fairs at elementary schools, and magician Joe Romano, who uses magic, music and audience participation to teach children important literacy lessons.

"We're thrilled with the generous donation from Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages," said Maggi Gaines, executive director - Baltimore Reads. "Their partnership with Baltimore Reads will help us reinforce continuous learning and promote reading as a family activity. It also will put books in the hands of youngsters who ordinarily would not be able to afford them."

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages partnered with Baltimore Reads because of the success the organization has demonstrated in working with literacy providers, business, and government to find new and exciting ways to promote and encourage literacy among children and adults.

"Baltimore Reads is a leader among literacy organizations, so we're very excited about this new partnership with them," said Les Hunter, general sales manager at Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages in Baltimore. "It seems that every day there are new reports about how reading to our children can provide them with a positive start in life. We're glad to extend our efforts to families in Baltimore."

With more than 500 directories published in the United States, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages is the world's largest publisher of Yellow Pages shopping directories. The company also has Yellow Pages directory operations in six countries and publishes more than 12 million copies of 123 shopping directory editions internationally. Its affiliate, Bell Atlantic Electronic Commerce Services is creator of BigYellowSM

, a leading online shopping service on the Internet.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines and 8.6 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and 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.

Bell Atlantic news releases, executive speeches, news media contacts and other useful information are available at Bell Atlantic's News Center on the World Wide Web (http://www.ba.com). To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for personalized automatic delivery of Bell Atlantic news releases.

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