Contact: Megan Humphrey
For Immediate Release
Drive to Read @ your library winner announced: Libraries across country promote program to fuel interest in teen reading
Kylee M. Nielsen of Kennard, Neb., is the grand prize winner of the Drive to Read @ your library™ program developed by the American Library Association (ALA) and Morningstar Foods, Inc., maker of Hershey®'s Milk. Nielsen, 16, was one of more than 100 teens who spoke out about the impact of reading on their lives as part of the essay program.
Nielsen and her family will speed down to the Homestead Miami Speedway on November 11 to attend the day's race and meet NASCAR star Ward Burton, who was the spokesperson for the program. Library Director Wendy Anderson of The Bess Johnson Elkhorn Public Library in Elkhorn, Neb., also will attend the race for sponsoring Nielsen in the program.
The Drive to Read @ your library program was designed to ignite interest in reading among America's teens. Teens were asked to read one of the 2001 Best Books for Young Adults, selected by librarians through the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), 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. Entries were sponsored by a school or public librarian.
Anderson originally turned over her grand prize trip to Nielsen, whose father recently lost his battle with cancer, so that her two brothers could also attend the NASCAR race. In response, Morningstar Foods stepped forward with an offer to send Anderson and her son with the Nielsen family to Miami.
Anderson encouraged the teen to enter the essay contest because the family used to attend NASCAR races when her dad was alive. Anderson had become acquainted with Nielsen through a library crafts class, and the two developed a friendship. Nielsen uses The Bess Johnson Elkhorn Library because her hometown of Kennard has no library of its own.
"It was such a perfect opportunity in these times to be generous," said Anderson, who is a member of the ALA and the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the ALA. "I'm just so excited for her. It's such a great accomplishment."
The theme of "winning at life" was what Nielsen found inspiring about the book, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins (New York: Putnam, 2000.)
"Armstrong helps you understand it's not winning a bike race, or anything else you may be involved in that is important," wrote Nielsen, who chose the book on her own without any prompting from Anderson or her family. "It is a matter of winning at life." Read the winning essay.
A jury of teens and members from YALSA, a division of the ALA, selected Nielsen as the winner. Essays were judged on style and content, including their thoughtfulness, creativity, clarity and organization. The Drive to Read jury found Nielsen's essay compelling and well-written.
"We find our heroes in different ways, and Kylee found one in this book. It was apparent that his story really validated the fight that her father had gone through," said Cindy Welch, Young Adult Specialist at the Chicago Public Library and a member of the jury.
"I like the way she chose to recommend the book to other teens," added Baseeruddin Mohammed, a high school sophomore on the jury representing the Chicago Public Library. "She tied the story into her own life and gave examples from the book to support her reasoning."
Other judges included Amy Alessio, Teen Coordinator, Schaumburg (Ill.) Township District Library; Jane Byczek, Library Consultant; and Tim Farrell, a high school junior representing the Chicago Public Library.
Ten runners-up also were chosen by the jury. They each will receive Hershey merchandise and an autographed photo of Ward Burton. Information on the runners up and their sponsoring librarians can be found on the @ your library Web site.
The program, which kicked off at an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August, received an overwhelming response from libraries nationwide. Nearly 1,000 public and school librarians requested free Drive to Read @ your library kits. The kits included posters, bookmarks and other materials to help libraries publicize the program locally.
"Any program that is designed to encourage teens in America to discover the world through reading is a program that I am delighted to participate in," Anderson said.
Drive to Read @ your library is the latest program of The Campaign for America's Libraries, a five-year public education effort sponsored by the ALA to remind the public about the value of libraries and librarians in the 21st century.
Morningstar Foods Inc., is a founding partner in The Campaign for America's Libraries. 3M Library Systems, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and Major League Baseball also are founding partners.
For more information on the campaign and to subscribe to an email list for the latest campaign updates and idea-sharing, visit the @ your library Web site at http://www.ala.org/@yourlibrary. Libraries are encouraged to send examples of how they are involved in the campaign to: Megan Humphrey, Campaign Coordinator, ALA Public Information Office, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. Questions about the campaign can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.