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Make Like Dickens on International Literacy Day

Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, 7 September 2009 For immediate release

Make Like Charles Dickens on International Literacy Day

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is providing the world¹s newspapers with an eight-part serialized story for publication around International Literacy Day, 8 September, to help parents and teachers instil a love of reading in young people.

WAN-IFRA is encouraging newspapers to launch the series on or near 8 September to coincide with International Literacy Day, a United Nations initiative to promote universal literacy. WAN-IFRA is also providing cartoons celebrating reading that were donated by some of the world¹s leading cartoonists, including Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, for newspapers to print on that day.

The cartoons, the story and accompanying activities can be found at http://www.wan-press.org/nie/articles.php?id=1469 .

The idea of serialized stories in newspapers is not new; novels by Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo and Leo Tolstoy began this way. Serialized stories are finding an important new audience in the 21st century and are being used to encourage family reading.

The story being offered by WAN-IFRA has no literary pretentions. It is a tale for 9- to 12-year olds about a group of insects who must learn to cooperate to create a newspaper (The Fly on the Wall Journal) to spread the news in City Park.

But behind the story is a serious objective ¬ to help teachers and parents show children that reading and learning are fun. The companion lesson plan includes reading comprehension questions, writing exercises, science facts and exercises that teach children about newspaper journalism, and offer ways to learn about the local newspaper.

Newspapers with a combined circulation of over four million have already made plans for the story. Among them: The Hindustan Times in India will arrange contests to encourage students to create their own school newspapers, and to submit paintings and artwork about insects. El Bravo in Mexico will award prizes to children who complete all the activities for all eight chapters. The Daily News of Effington, Illinois, in the United States, will print the first chapter as part of its literacy supplement that focuses on pre-school through adult literacy.

International Literacy Day was established in 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is celebrated around the world each year on September 8. One in five adults over the age of 15 world-wide is unable to read, according to UNESCO.

Newspapers world-wide are working to change this; in many countries where textbooks are in short supply or too expensive, the local paper serves as the reading primer.

³In many countries, teachers use newspapers to teach both children and adults how to read, and we constantly hear of new ways newspapers are working with, or even creating, libraries,² said Aralynn McMane, Director of Young Reader Development at WAN-IFRA. ³A serial story remains a great tool for all involved and is a fresh way to attract new partnerships.²

WAN-IFRA is offering the story free of charge, in English and Spanish, to newspapers that can begin publishing it before the end of the year. Newspapers are authorized to translate the story into any other language.

The author of the story, Cathy Sewell, the Newspapers in Education Manager for the St Louis Post-Dispatch, will talk about how to use serial stories as a circulation and loyalty builder at the World Young Reader Conference, to be held from 27 to 30 September in Prague, Czech Republic. Full programme and registration details can be found at http://www.wan-press.org/prague2009.

The serialized story initiative is part of WAN-IFRA¹s Newspapers in Education Development Project supported by Norske Skog, the Norway-based global paper producer. The story, activities and art were was donated by The Curriculum Closet. Additional photos and stories about real insects were provided by Paris-based Sardine Features and are available at http://www.sardinefeatures.com/%7Estories/flyworld/default.htm

Cartoon donors include Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, French cartoonist Michel Cambon, and artists working with CartoonArts International, which represents political cartoonists from 75 countries.

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world¹s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. The organisation was created by the merger of the World Association of Newspapers and IFRA, the research and service organisation for the news publishing industry.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: larry.kilman@wan-ifra.org

ENDS

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