MALVERN, Pa., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Illiteracy continues to be a problem facing many Americans. In the early 1980's, 35 million adults couldn't read above an eighth-grade level, and 23 million more beyond a fourth-grade level. Today, that number has increased to 30 million people who have below basic literacy skills, with 63 million others who possess very basic literacy proficiency -- a statistic that continues to trouble former First Lady Barbara Bush. Both in and out of the White House, she has been a champion of improving the literacy levels of adults and children, through the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and special projects such as Mrs. Bush's Story Time.
Created by the Philadelphia non-profit organization, Children's Literacy Initiative, and broadcast nationwide by ABC Radio Networks, Mrs. Bush's Story Time featured celebrities reading some of the most beloved children's stories ever written. Mrs. Bush hosted the popular radio series, with the goal of helping young children develop a life-long passion for reading, learning, and success in life.
While it's been nearly 15 years since the radio show has aired, The Malvern School, a highly acclaimed early education organization with 20 private pre-schools in the U.S., decided it was time to reintroduce it to its 2,000 pre-school and kindergarten students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"As you know, literacy has been my life-long passion, and I am so proud of the work that my foundation has done to advance the cause and encourage people of all ages to experience the joy of reading," said Mrs. Bush. "I am especially pleased that the Malvern School is using the broadcasts as educational events for their students, and I wish them the best of luck," she added.
Malvern School's president and COO, Kristen M. Waterfield, believes introducing Mrs. Bush's Story Time will have a positive impact on her students. "We are honored that Children's Literacy Initiative have given us the opportunity introduce our students to the stories that Mrs. Bush and Children's Literacy Initiative featured on their radio show," Waterfield said. "We've developed a special event celebrating reading and literacy, and are using the stories, which we've put on CD's, as the centerpieces of our monthly Story Time activities. We know our students will be thrilled," she added.
Waterfield said that the Mrs. Bush's Story Time event at the school will consist of many activities including: students listening to the stories and reading them along with Mrs. Bush; creating special projects and discussions that tie in with the books' themes; participating in group discussions and question and answer sessions; and learning about who Mrs. Bush is and what she has done in her role as both First Lady and as a private citizen.
Linda Katz, co-founder and CEO of Children's Literacy said: "This is so exciting for us. As reading-aloud advocates, we know that what happens when children are four years old affects their life-long learning outcomes. We commend the Malvern School and are very grateful to Mrs. Bush. We absolutely loved working with her and her staff in the 1990's when we first launched Mrs. Bush's Story Time, and know this new effort will greatly benefit all of the Malvern School students."
Waterfield added that the Mrs. Bush's Story Time events will continue through the 2011 school year. "We're excited about hosting our next Mrs. Bush's Story Time event on October 21st," she said. "We want to thank the former First Lady for her tireless efforts to promote reading and literacy, especially among young children, and Children's Literacy Initiative, as well," said Waterfield."
About The Malvern School: The Malvern School was founded in 1998 by Joseph A. Scandone and Kristen Waterfield; Scandone also founded the Goddard School. There are 20 Malvern private pre-schools in the tri-state area with 10 more planned over the next three years. The Malvern School is the premier early childhood education program in the region, having received the coveted National Association for the Education of Young Children, (NAEYC) accreditation for seven of its schools, signifying they have exceeded industry standards for early childhood education excellence. With more than 450 employees, and 2,000 students, The Malvern School's faculty is comprised of teachers who hold degrees only in early childhood education.
SOURCE The Malvern School