February 27, 2004


LINCOLN—Can access to books change a child’s future? Union College students are determined to find out by helping children turn new pages. During a luncheon on Thursday, March 4, 12:30 p.m., Union College will celebrate a new connection with First Book, a national nonprofit organization that provides books to low-income children. Union’s Education Club will host the event for interested students, faculty and two special guests: Stephanie Johanns and well-known children’s author/poet Bruce Lansky*.

            “We are excited about Mrs. Johanns’ enthusiasm for this program and the opportunity to work with a national organization that will enable our students make a difference for children at a local level,” said Joann Herrington, education professor who initiated Union’s connection to First Book. “Involvement with First Book is a great opportunity not only for Union’s education majors, but also others across campus who are passionate about giving underprivileged children their own new books.”

During the luncheon event, Union will introduce the organization of a First Book Campus Advisory Board (CAB). First Book’s CAB initiative enables college students to put new books into the hands of children who need them the most. The first in Nebraska, Union’s CAB has been granted an initial supply of 5,000 books to share with Lincoln children.

The student-run advisory board will perform three main functions: educate the campus and community about the need for literacy and new books; give new books through existing tutoring, mentoring and family literacy programs; and raise funds for the work of First Book, with help from First Book’s national office and sponsors, which include Cheerios and the National Football League.

            Union’s First Book Campus Advisory Board is accepting community-based literacy programs who wish to receive books to distribute to the children they serve. After the submission deadline of March 15, students on the advisory board will evaluate applications and determine which organizations will be granted books for delivery in April. Although Union students will deliver the books to children through community programs, the books will belong to each child, not the service agency. To qualify for a book grant, organizations must be a tutoring, mentoring or family literacy program that works with disadvantaged children.

            On campuses around the country, First Book Campus Advisory Boards unite leaders from all sectors of the community to provide books to children in literacy programs, shelters for battered children, housing project initiatives, soup kitchens, after-school programs and other community-based efforts reaching children living below the poverty line. For more information about First Book visit www.firstbook.org.

To learn more about the Union College’s First Book Campus Advisory Board application and the book grant process, please contact Joann Herrington, education professor in Union’s Division of Human Development, at 486-2600 ext. 2173.

*NOTE: In addition to participating in Union’s First Book kickoff luncheon, Bruce Lansky, renowned children’s poet, will conduct a series of workshops throughout the day on Union’s campus for area elementary school students and educators.

Workshop schedule: 9 a.m.—grades 1-3; 10:30 a.m.—grades 4-6; 12:30 p.m.—First Book Luncheon

For more about Bruce Lansky visit www.poetryteachers.com/authorvisit/brucevisit.html.