SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Renowned actor and Verizon spokesperson James Earl Jones will share his love of reading with local school children as Verizon SuperPages presents a $45,000 grant to the San Antonio Public Library Foundation to launch a new program called "Born to Read." The event will take place on Thursday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the library's main branch, immediately following a press conference marking the 100th anniversary of the San Antonio Public Library.
The "Born to Read" program will provide San Antonio parents of children born in 2003 with an educational bookbag that contains a library card application, a map of library locations, two bilingual books, coupons for a CD of lullabies and a reading video, and a birth certificate declaring the new baby a "Library Centennial Baby." The packets will be distributed through local San Antonio hospitals and are designed to encourage parents to begin reading to their babies from birth. To demonstrate the importance of reading to children, Jones will share his experiences and personal love of reading as well as the classic story of Casey at Bat with 30 third-graders from Carver Academy and Ogden Elementary School.
"With the help of Verizon SuperPages and hospitals in the greater San Antonio area, we will educate more than 28,000 new parents about the value of reading to their children from an early age, and we will provide them the tools they need to do so successfully", said Kaye Lenox, president/CEO of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation. "We commend Verizon for its enthusiasm and passion and the active role the company is taking in our community to promote literacy."
Statistics show a direct correlation between parents reading to and with their children and children's success on literacy tests. Where the involvement is low, children score significantly lower on literacy tests; where involvement is high, children score 28 points above the national average.
"At SuperPages, we support programs that promote literacy among both adults and children. We believe that the ability to read, write and communicate is the foundation for success in life," said Wayne Smith, vice president expansion markets. "We are proud to partner with the San Antonio Public Library Foundation in its efforts to encourage parents to read to their children from day one."
Verizon Information Services supports 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 families and caregivers, and the Internet Learning Tutor for adults. Enlighten Me features SuperThinkers, a children's section with games and challenges specifically designed to help children develop critical thinking skills in a fun setting.
The San Antonio Public Library Foundation was founded in 1983 to support the San Antonio Public Library System through private sector fundraising and program efforts, bridging the gap between the city's annual funding and the library system's long-term needs. By securing funding from such sources as individuals, corporations and charitable foundations, the Library Foundation is able to augment the system's budget to purchase books, audio and video tapes, computers and other technology, exhibits, special collections and services. It recently completed a four-year, $8 million Centennial Achievement Plan to mark the library's 100th anniversary.
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 United States. With operations in 14 countries and annual revenues of more than $4.3 billion, Verizon Information Services publishes more than 1,200 U.S. Verizon SuperPages directories and nearly 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 14 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.
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 kickoff of "Born to Read" at the San Antonio Public Library.
Stephanie Hobbs, Verizon SuperPages, 972-453-7016
Loren Fisher, Tierney Communications, 215-790-4244
Kenneth Slavin, San Antonio Public Library, 210-829-4650