For immediate release | May 10, 2011

ALA’s and National Geographic Entertainment partner on "The First Grader"

CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) has announced a promotional partnership with National Geographic Entertainment connected with National Geographic's new narrative feature film, "The First Grader." The film will be highlighted through ALA’s advocacy website for the public, Other partners include: Capella University (national sponsor), International Reading Association (lead promotional partner), National Education Association, ProLiteracy and LitWorld. "The First Grader" will premiere in New York and Los Angeles on May 13, 2011 and expand to more major markets in the following weeks.

“In the Information Age, we often assume that every adult can read and write.” said Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS). “However, libraries know firsthand that this isn’t the case. Libraries are among the first American institutions that people from around the globe turn to for help in learning how to read, write and speak English. Like ALA’s American Dream Starts @ your library initiative, 'The First Grader' puts a spotlight on the urgent need to close the literacy gap that exists in American communities of all kinds — from large cities to rural towns. Our goal, as librarians and literacy advocates, is to provide adults, regardless of their country of origin, with the tools and resources they need to lead happier and productive lives and build a stronger society.”

ALA is pleased to provide a downloadable poster/flyer from "The First Grader" plus social media links with its members and the wider library community. These resources can help libraries promote their own literacy programs as they work on community projects. ALA and National Geographic encourage libraries to share their stories on the Facebook page of "The First Grader,"

"The First Grader," based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside 6-year-olds. For more information on the film, or to find a theater where it’s playing, visit

"The First Grader" has been a hit at prestigious international film festivals since its debut at the Telluride Film Festival last September. The film went on to the Toronto Film Festival where it was the runner up for the Audience Prize and then to the Doha and Pan African Film Festivals, where it won the coveted Audience Prize.

To download the poster/flyer and to learn how ALA members and the wider library community can help to close the literacy gap, please visit

National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) is part of National Geographic Global Media and combines into a single operating group National Geographic Films, National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV), Kids Entertainment and Music & Radio. Over the last decade, NGE units have released a number of successful films in both traditional and giant screen theaters, including the Oscar-nominated documentaries "Restrepo," "March of the Penguins" and "The Story of the Weeping Camel"; giant screen films "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure," "U2 3D" and "Mysteries of Egypt"; and traditional feature-length films "The Last Lions," "The Way Back" and "Amreeka." Daniel Battsek is president of NGF; Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV; and Mark Katz is president of NGCV distribution.

The American Library Association (ALA), the voice of America's libraries, is the oldest, largest and most influential library association in the world. Its approximately 63,000 members are primarily librarians but also trustees, publishers and other library supporters. The association represents all types of libraries; its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.