First lady Ginger Beebe joined the Alex Foundation and the Arkansas Reading Association to celebrate International Literacy Day with book donations to schools, non-profit organizations and shelters in Little Rock and schools in the southeast Arkansas Delta. The event also honored Arkansas educators for international literacy achievements.
Krista Underwood, Arkansas Reading Association state coordinator, introduced recipients of literacy awards given by the International Reading Association.
The international winner of the Community Service Award in Literacy was Jefferson County Reading Council, represented by Susan Bitely, JCRC past president, and Margie Nanak, ARA 2012 Literacy Educator of the year. Bitely and Nanak are library media specialists for the Pine Bluff School District.
Also recognized were Malea Ellison, Mountain Pine School District, IRA Award for Reading Technology and Fountain Lake School District, Hot Springs, IRA Exemplary Reading Program Award.
Beebe read to the children of Our House in Little Rock, which was one the recipients of over 1,000 books given by the Alex Foundation. Books were also distributed to Dorcas House and St. Francis House in Little Rock, Dermott Elementary School, and CB King Memorial School in McGehee.
International Literacy Day was first observed in Sept. 8, 1967, to coincide with the beginning of the new school year. It is intended to bring attention to the role literacy plays in everyone’s life. Internationally, there are approximately 860 million adults who cannot read or write and more than 100 million children who lack access to equity in education.