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AMERICANS SCORE LOW ON FAMILY READING; ONLY ONE PERCENT OF AMERICANS SPEND TIME READING TO CHILDREN

 AMERICANS SCORE LOW ON FAMILY READING;
 ONLY ONE PERCENT OF AMERICANS SPEND TIME READING TO CHILDREN
 DANVERS, Mass., May 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In line with the recent Education Department findings regarding the reading abilities of American students, only one percent of the adults recently queried in another independent survey spend the 7 to 8 p.m. after-dinner hour reading to and with children and family members. This survey, of 1,000 Americans commissioned by GTE's Sylvania Lighting Division-U.S., also indicated that half of the respondents said they spend that same hour watching television, while 13 percent read independently.
 The survey was commissioned by Sylvania Lighting to support the introduction of "America's Official Reading Time," the first private- sector, child oriented, national program promoting a specific hour -- 7 - 8 p.m. -- to encourage regular family reading.
 The widely reported Education Department study indicated that American students spend little time reading either for school or pleasure. That report, commissioned by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, concluded that children from households where regular reading is fostered perform better in school.
 Education Secretary Lamar Alexander suggested the importance of establishing regular parent/child reading times and noted that parents should encourage regular library visits with their children.
 However, the American Library Association reports that a sluggish economy and cutbacks in public funding have left many schools and libraries nationwide with "no bucks for books." In response, Sylvania Lighting has developed a program extension designed to help put more books on library shelves and in classrooms.
 To pre-register for the program, librarians, school principals and educators can write to: America's Official Reading Time, c/o Sylvania Lighting, P.O. Box 965, West Seneca, N.Y. 14224 (Book Program). There is no fee for registration.
 "To help alleviate the funding problem, an easy, no-cost way for school and libraries to acquire book funds is now available," says Robert Brands, marketing manager of Sylvania Lighting. "UPC codes from Sylvania products will be collected by students, collected at school and sent to us on a quarterly basis. Sylvania Lighting pledges 10 cents for each UPC code to be used towards the purchase of books."
 Participating schools will receive a start-up kit containing a collection box, poster and a letter for parents explaining how the program works.
 In addition to the pledge of 10 cents per UPC code, Sylvania Lighting will also send schools and libraries -- and consumers -- free copies of a booklet called "How To Get Your Kids Excited About Reading." Developed in cooperation with the national non-profit organization Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the booklet contains age-appropriate suggestions for families eager to put reading back into their lives. This can be obtained by calling (toll-free) 1-800-LIGHTBULB, or writing Sylvania Marketing Services Center, Department AORT, 70 Empire Dr., West Seneca, N.Y. 14224.
 According to Wade St. Clair, director of development for RIF, exposing children -- even infants -- to regular reading is essential. "Schools can only do so much. By making reading a daily part of the home experience, parents can help open young minds to new experiences, and increase their chances for scholastic success," he said.
 As many as 23 million U.S. adults are functionally illiterate, unable to handle fourth-grade level reading skills, and fully 35 million adults are semi-literate, or can't read at an eighth-grade reading level.
 Sylvania Lighting's "America's Official Reading Time" was designed to help break the burden of illiteracy by fostering enthusiasm for reading and learning among youngsters and adults. The U.S. Department of Labor now estimates that adult literacy costs society $225 billion annually in lost productivity, welfare, crime and poverty.
 -0- 5/29/92
 /CONTACT: Richard H. Dowhan of GTE, 508-750-2225, or (after 5 p.m., 603-964-5756)/ CO: GTE ST: Massachusetts IN: HOU SU:


SH-OS -- NY055 -- 5296 05/29/92 15:54 EDT
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Date:May 29, 1992
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