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Illinois Reading Council launches Illinois Reads

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) have formally launched Illinois Reads, the first ever statewide literacy program spanning all generations.

“As a former educator and as a mom, I know how important it is to get kids excited about reading at an early age,” said Simon, a former Illinois Reading Council Legislative Award winner. “A love of reading will help ignite a desire for learning that can carry our young students into higher education and well into adulthood.”

“I have always been committed to ensuring that all Illinois citizens have access to quality literacy programs that set them on the path to lifelong learning,” said White, honorary chairman of Illinois Reads. “Illinois Reads is an exciting new program that will enhance our literacy efforts by encouraging all Illinoisans to read books by authors who are connected to the state of Illinois.”

As part of Illinois Reads, which will culminate in a statewide celebration of literacy during Secretary White’s Family Reading Night on Nov. 21, classrooms, public and school libraries, community groups and community bookstores throughout the state will feature the titles of 35 books in six separate age groupings.

“These books range from read-to books for infants to read-aloud books for home-bound seniors and everything in between,” said Tammy Potts, president-elect for the IRC, who heads up the Illinois Reads campaign. “There is a pleasant mix of hard covers and paperbacks with several Spanish-language titles and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related books.”

The eight month campaign will focus on reading at home and in the classroom for the remainder of the current school year as well as next fall when classes resume. Illinois Reads will also emphasize summer reading as a way to not only bring the family closer together but also to combat what is known as “summer learning loss” in children. Residents from Rockford to Carbondale and from Quincy to Danville will be able to partake in Family Literacy Nights sponsored by their local IRC chapters.

The Illinois Reads website www.illinoisreads.org will serve as the focal point for the campaign with virtual community conversations, webinars, author interviews, book reviews, book trailers and art work. Visitors will also find the website’s marketplace an intriguing destination with Illinois Reads lanyards, license plate frames, tote bags, tumblers and T-shirts available for purchase.

Illinois Reads was unveiled on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield during the legislative reception prior to the Illinois Reading Council’s 45th annual conference. At that same reception, the IRC announced Stephanie Solbrig of Lewis School in Carbondale was the recipient of the organization’s Obama Library Award and issued its annual Legislator of the Year Award to Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford. The Fleming Academy of Performing Art String Orchestra also performed at the reception.

The Illinois State Library, the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois Broadcasters Association, Rotary Clubs of Illinois, the Illinois Education Association, Floppets toys, and independent book stores throughout Illinois are all key IRC partners in the statewide campaign.

The mission of the Illinois Reading Council is to provide support and leadership to educators as they promote and teach lifelong literacy. Following is a list of titles. Hometowns of current Illinois residents are noted.

Birth – 4

“Favorite Nursery Rhymes From Mother Goose” by Scott Gustafson of Chicago.

“1 Zany Zoo” by Lori Degman of Vernon Hills.

“My Friend Rabbit” by Eric Rohmann of Oak Park.

“Goodnight, Good Night Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker of Chicago.

“Little Illinois” by Esther Hershenhorn of Chicago.

“Bein’ With You This Way and La Alegria de Ser Tu y Yo” by W. Nikola-Lisa of Chicago.

Grades K-2

“Bugs and Us” by Patricia J. Murphy of Chicago, S.T.E.M. title.

“Tooth Tales From Around the World” by Marlene Targ Brill of Wilmette.

“Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies” by Carolyn Crimi of Evanston.

“Chicks and Salsa” by Aaron Reynolds of Fox River Grove.

“Another Brother” by Matthew Cordell of Gurnee.

“The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale” by Cheryl Bardoe S.T.E.M. title.

Grades 3-5

“Everything I Know About Pirates” by Tom Lichtenheld of Geneva.

“Abraham Lincoln: 16th President, 1861-1865” by Mike Venezia.

“Secrets of the Cicada Summer” by Andrea Beaty of Naperville.

“Lowji Discovers America” by Candace Fleming of Oak Park.

“Shipwreck Search: Discovery of the H. L. Hunley” by Sally M. Walker of DeKalb S.T.E.M. title.

“Frindle and Fríndel” by Andrew Clements.

Grades 6-8

“The Danger Box” by Blue Balliett of Chicago.

“Children of Fire” by Harriette Gillem Robinet of Oak Park.

“The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History” by Adam Selzer of Chicago.

“Cold Fury” by T. M. Goeglein of Chicago.

“Rules of the Road” by Joan Bauer.

“Dark Life by Kat Falls” of Evanston S.T.E.M title.

Grades 9-12

“Of Beetles & Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard” by Mawi Asgedom of Chicago.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green.

“Perfect Chemistry” by Simone Elkeles of Buffalo Grove.

“Is It Night or Day?” by Fern Schumer Chapman.

“Into the Wild Nerd Yonder” by Julie Halpern of Gurnee.

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth of Chicago.


“Playing With the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, World War II, and the Long Journey Home” by Gary M. Moore of Bourbonnais.

“The Hummingbird’s Daughter” by Luis Alberto Urrea of Chicago.

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn of Chicago.

“Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin.

“The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch.

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