BUILDING A NATION OF READERS

A program at the Library of Congress sponsored by the Center for the Book and Public Service Collections


"I can think of no better place to experience history than within the walls of the Library of Congress listening to voices of the past and the not so distant past voices that seek to explain, and describe -- voices full of hope and expectation. For it is through such voices and the words they share with us that we can begin to know the writers better and, through their experiences, know ourselves ."

Excerpt of program's opening remarks by Diane Kresh, Director of Public Service Collections

Complete text of opening remarks


The Library of Congress inaugurates a new series for school-age children on May 28, when approximately 200 children and their teachers attend a program for young readers. Sponsored by the Library 's Center for the Book, and Public Service Collections Directorate, the series hopes to: highlight for children the collections and resources of the Library of Congress and libraries in general; demonstrate to children that reading makes a difference in the outcomes of the lives of individuals -- their relationships, values, career choices, and quality of life; and promote literacy and lifelong learning.

As the nation's largest library, the Library of Congress takes seriously its role in shaping the lives of young people as they mature and begin to take part in our democracy as active and enlightened citizens. For example, our National Digital Library project has a special Learning Page dedicated to assisting teachers and media specialists in the teaching of history through the use of primary resource material; and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has selected "Building a Nation of Readers" for the Library of Congress's national reading promotion campaign for the years 1997-2000. What better place then to launch a reading series for children of all ages with a goal of encouraging a lifetime commitment to the joy of reading!

The Library's staff has been working for several months with a group of teachers and librarians from the local school systems and the DC Public Library, Children's Branch, to work with the Library in planning the structure and content of each program. The May 28 program focuses on the theme of childhood education and will feature a range of letters and diary and journal entries from the personal papers of figures from American History and Literature. This first program is designed to appeal to fourth grade students, additional programs will focus on different themes, through which the collections of the Library will be highlighted.

Each program will run about one and one half-hours and will include both a reading and interaction with the students. The students will be invited to share aloud their own experiences in response to the material being read and we will follow-up each event with an online reference link so that children may ask questions about the Library and its many riches.

The events will take place in the Library's celebrated and historic Coolidge Auditorium, a gift to the Library from Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, a great patron of the arts and friend of the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

The Schools participating in this first program are:

  • District of Columbia:
    • Brent Museum Magnet Elementary School (Public)
    • Capitol Hill Cluster School (Public)
    • Capitol Hill Day School (Private)

  • Virginia
    • Alexandria: Lyles-Crouch Elementary (Public)
    • Falls Church: Bailey's Elementary for the Arts and Sciences (Public)

For additional information:
Director, Public Service Collections, Diane N. Kresh 202-707-6072

Director, Center for the Book, John Y. Cole 202-707-5221

Readings from the Collections:

Benjamin Franklin

Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Miss Stevenson, 16 May 1760
Letter from Benjamin Franklin to his daughter Sarah Bache, 26 January 1784


Thumbnail image of
Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass

Excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
(The Anti-Slavery Office, 1849)
Title page -- page 32 -- page 33 -- page 42 -- page 43

Letter from Annie Douglass to Frederick Douglass about learning German and about John Brown, 7 December 1859


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The Village Blacksmith," poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written about 1840, published 1841 in Ballads and Other Poems


Thumbnail image of
Francis O. French Francis O. French
Excerpts from the journal of Francis Ormond French, known as "Frank," written when he was 12 years old and lived on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Cover of journal -- page one -- page two -- page three -- page four

This is a picture of Frank French's house, and another of his father.


Emma Willard

Excerpt from address of the Honorable Chauncey M. Depew at the dedication of Russell Sage Hall of the "Emma Willard" School in Troy, New York, 1895.
Page one -- page two -- page three -- page four


Thumbnail image of
Francis O. French Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Excerpts from Eighty Years and More (1815-1897): Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (New York: European Publishing Company, 1898)
Page 30 -- page 31 -- page 32 -- page 33


Margaret Mead

Excerpts from the first diary of Margaret Mead, begun on 14 May 1911, when Mead was 9 years old.
Cover -- page one -- page two -- page three -- page four -- page five -- page six -- page seven -- page eight


Billy Gobitas

Letter from Billy Gobitas to the Minersville, Pennsylvania, school directors, explaining why the young Jehovah's Witness refused to salute the American flag, 5 November 1935.


Little Rock Nine

Letter from Daisy Bates to Roy Wilkins regarding treatment of the Little Rock Nine, 17 December 1957
Excerpts from an essay entitled "The Ordeal of Minnie Jean Brown: One of the First Nine Negro Students to Attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas," 19 February 1958.


Send your questions to the Library of Congress!
Electronic mail address: kidreflc@loc.gov


Readers:

Sevanne Martin is a professional actress who lives and works out of New York City. She has appeared in leading roles at the Arena stage here in Washington DC, the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota, the Petersborough Players in New Hampshire and other regional theaters. Ms. Martin has been a teacher of theater arts at several universities and conducts workshops on an ongoing basis.

Norman Middleton is Co-producer of the "Concerts from the Library of Congress," an outstanding musical series sponsored by the Library of Congress Music Division. Mr. Middleton is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M.) and the Salzburg Mozarteum (Diploma). He has been at the Library of Congress for eighteen years.

Lynn Schrichte is a professional actress and writer who lives and works in Washington, DC. Ms. Schrichte's roles include Essie in Ah, Wilderness! and Mae in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, among many others. Her television credits include roles on Homicide: Life on the Streets and Search for Grace, a CBS Movie of the Week. Mrs Fiske: Against the Wind is her first full-length play.

Library of Congress Curators:

Adrienne Cannon is the African-American History and Culture Specialist in the Manuscript Division, where she has served for two of her three years on the Library staff. Ms. Cannon came to the Library from a position as curator of special collections at the University of Virginia Library.

Marvin Kranz is an American History Specialist in the Manuscript Division. While a specialist in the American presidency, Mr. Kranz is also a generalist with a vast knowledge of the Library's manuscript collections. He is the curator of the psychoanalytical collections and has been with the Library for almost 29 years.

Rosemary Plakas, American History Specialist in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, is in her twenty-eighth year of interpreting rare Americana collections at the Library of Congress. She enjoys sharing information about the Library's rich collections on the American Revolutionary Era, African American History and Women's History.

Mary Wolfskill is the Library's Margaret Mead specialist as well as the Head of Reference and Reader Services in the Manuscript Division. As both librarian and archivist, she is a frequent speaker at national and regional meetings of professional archive and library associations. Ms. Wolfskill has been at the Library for 29 years.


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