The Read In!
    by John Cech

In tight budget times like these, it's become increasingly more difficult for schools and libraries to afford to bring children's book authors to town for visits with their young readers. Enter the The Read In on the Internet -- you can find it at www.readin.org. It's a website and a project that has been going strong for nearly a decade. And once a year, on May 16th this year, it creates an opportunity for children, through the computers at their schools or in their libraries or homes, to log on for an on-line, real-time exchange about writing and books with a number of our leading authors and illustrators. For 2002 the Read In will be providing conversations with twenty-five writers and artists who produce books for young people. The list this year includes: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, who wrote the Newberry-Award-winning Shiloh; Louis Sachar, whose recent novel, Holes, has become a must-read for middle-schoolers; Lois Lowry, who wrote the powerful Number the Stars and The Giver; Ed Emberley, the distinguished illustrator; and R. L. Stine who originated the Goosebumps series, and was one of the first authors to participate in this excellent program.

The site provides background information, bibliographies, curriculum materials, and study guides for schools, libraries, and parents to make use of this occasion to learn about these authors and artists and their works. The Readin also offers a rewarding way to experience the remarkable possibilities of the internet to connect us in meaningful discussions, in a safe and carefully monitored environment.

The Read In is made possible each year by the non-profit Read In Foundation, which is dedicated to encouraging reading among children and their families through the use of technological tools like the computer. The site provides careful instructions for downloading the relatively simple soft-ware that is necessary for youngsters to participate in the internetalogues that will be taking place today. It's probably too late for a school or household to join the conversation this year, but it's something to keep in mind for 2003. That'll give you plenty of time to get the bugs out of the software, and to start reading those dozens of wonderful books for next year with your children.

Copyright 2002 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:19:45 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."