Drive to Read 2001 Launch

Contact: Megan Humphrey
312-280-4020
mhumphrey@ala.org

For Immediate Release
August 2001

Drive to Read @ your library™ Helps Teens Discover the World Through Reading

CHICAGO (August 2, 2001) — Today, Indianapolis Motor Speedway served as the backdrop for the national launch of Drive to Read @ your library™, a new program developed to ignite interest in reading among America's teens and drive them right into libraries . NASCAR driver Ward Burton was on hand to launch the national awareness program, developed by the American Library Association (ALA) and Hershey's Milk.

National Statistics Make It Clear: Get Teens Into the Race to Read

The latest reading test scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP, 1999, 2000) indicate reading scores have made no significant statistical gains since the 1970s. They also report that a smaller percentage of 13- and 17-year olds read for fun daily today than in 1971. Drive to Read @ your library will encourage young adults across America to step into libraries, check out a book and discover the limitless world of possibilities available through reading.

A Flag-Waving Kick-off

With NASCAR driver Ward Burton at the wheel at the launch event, America's libraries and Hershey's Milk have issued a national call-to-action for America's teens. "I am honored to be a part of the Drive to Read @ your library program," said Ward Burton. "This effort will encourage teens to discover the pleasures of reading and gain the power of knowledge. With that power, they will be invincible."

The Drive to Read @ your library program calls on teens to check out one of the Best Books for Young Adults for 2001 — selected by librarians through the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the ALA — and write a short essay describing why they would recommend the book to a friend and how it's a meaningful or inspiring book for today's teens. Once the essay has been written, teens have to check in with their school or public librarian to ask him or her to sponsor the contest entry. A jury of YALSA members will choose the winners. One lucky teen will win a trip with a parent or guardian, and the sponsoring librarian and a guest, to The Homestead Miami Speedway on November 11, 2001, to meet NASCAR star Ward Burton and attend the day's race.

Libraries can participate in this program and obtain more information, including contest rules and guidelines and ways for libraries to get involved, on the Hershey's Milk Web site at www.hersheysmilk.com. As part of the program, teens are required to have librarians sponsor their entries by signing off on their essay. Free program kits, including posters and bookmarks, @ your library campaign material and a sponsorship form, are available and can be directly requested through the Web site.

"Reaching out to young adults has long been a priority of the American Library Association and we are delighted to introduce this exciting new program with Hershey's Milk," said ALA President John W. Berry. "Our goal is to remind teens across the country to discover the wealth of books and other resources available and to say 'come see what's new @ (at) your library.'"

"Hershey's Milk is dedicated to building healthy bodies and healthy minds," said Bing Graffunder, president and chief operating officer of Morningstar Foods Inc., maker and distributor of Hershey's Milk. "By partnering with the American Library Association and working with libraries throughout the country, we want to fuel the imagination of teens through reading."

@ your library, The Campaign for America's Libraries, is a five-year public education effort sponsored by the ALA to speak loudly and clearly about the value of libraries and librarians in the 21st century. The campaign was officially launched to the public during National Library Week (April 1-7, 2001) at a kickoff event in Washington, D.C., involving First Lady Laura Bush, a former teacher and librarian.

Morningstar Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Suiza Foods Corporation, the nation's leading dairy processor and distributor, is the producer and distributor of Hershey's Milk. Morningstar Foods, Inc. is the latest founding partner in The Campaign for America's Libraries. 3M Library Systems, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Major League Baseball are also founding partners.

The book  Best Books for Young Adults was developed by Betty Carter and the young Adult Library Services Association and is published by ALA Editions.