PBS to Launch Nationwide Campaign to Promote Reading to Children

Posted by PBS Publicity on


Washington, D.C, April 3, 2002 - PBS PBS today announced that it will launch a comprehensive national public service campaign to promote children's literacy. The PBS Designated Reader initiative will help millions of children become better readers by inspiring adults to read aloud to them every day. Laura Bush has agreed to serve as Honorary Chairperson of the campaign. PBS will marshal its local member stations, its award-winning on-air and online children's programming, and its national and local partnerships to execute this initiative.

"PBS is proud that Mrs. Bush will support this campaign to uplift every child through the priceless gift of reading," said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of PBS. "I can think of no better voice to call on all Americans to change a life by reading to a child."

Research shows that children who are read to daily from infancy are more likely to become successful readers and students than children who are denied this rich experience. However, many adults are not taking advantage of this powerful tool to help a child get ready to read.

PBS, its local stations, and Mrs. Bush have long encouraged parents to enjoy the rewards of reading to their children. But to support parents, and those with few books or limited literacy, other caring adults may also become a child's "reader of the day," or designated reader. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that every child has a designated reader every day.

The PBS Designated Reader campaign also aims to:

  1. Raise public awareness of the importance of reading to children.
  2. Inspire millions of adults to read aloud to children.
  3. Offer grassroots activities that encourage more adults to become designated readers.
  4. Mobilize a national coalition of literacy, education, and youth groups.

The nearly 140 local PBS stations participating in the PBS Ready To Learn service will form the grassroots infrastructure of the campaign. Ready To Learn is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to harness the power of public television to promote early learning.

The PBS Designated Reader campaign builds on a strong foundation established by the PBS KIDS® series BETWEEN THE LIONS, created by WGBH Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd. Since its debut in 2000, BETWEEN THE LIONS has promoted the Designated Reader concept through storylines and public service announcements at the end of each episode.

PBS will deliver the Designated Reader message through multiple channels.

  1. PBS will broadcast public service messages via its local stations.
  2. PBS programs will feature designated readers.

  3. PBS and local PBS stations will offer tips, resources, and events to encourage reading.
  4. PBS will recruit local role models and celebrity readers.
  5. Local and national promotional partners will echo the message.
  6. Coalition partners will amplify the message to their memberships.

PBS' Designated Reader coalition partners will bring extraordinary access to libraries, schools, community-based youth and family support programs, and many other venues to deliver this important message.

Celebrities who have taped Designated Reader public service announcements for BETWEEN THE LIONS include: Al Roker, Larry King, Kelly Ripa, Jon Stewart, Sigourney Weaver, and Vanessa Williams.

In addition, many Members of Congress have already participated in Designated Reader public service announcements that have aired on their local PBS stations. These members include: Senator Jean Carnahan (D- MO); Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS); Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID); Senator John Edwards (D-NC); Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA); Senator James Jeffords (I-VT); Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA); Senator Patty Murray (D-WA); Senator Jack Reed (D-RI); Senator Harry Reid (D-NV); Senator George Voinovich (R-OH); Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN); Êand Representative Anne Northrup (R-KY).

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org


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Kevin Dando, PBS
(703) 739-5073

Julie Anbender
(202) 530-4591