Reading Is Fundamental Celebrates 45 Years of Inspiring Young Readers

Nov 03, 2011, 08:00 ET from Reading Is Fundamental

Unveils New Look and Calls on All Americans to Unite as Book People

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's largest children's literacy nonprofit, celebrates 45 years of igniting a love of reading in children nationwide with a bold commitment to building a literate America, including the unveiling of a new look and awareness campaign, and a special anniversary event to honor readers of all ages.


Founded in 1966 by Margaret McNamara with a group of Washington, D.C. teachers, RIF remains steadfast in its mission to provide every child with adequate access to books and literacy support so that they may discover the joy of reading. Since its founding, RIF has placed over 380 million free books in the hands of underserved children nationwide and the organization's efficient and unique model for book distribution has been proven effective.

"We know that books are essential to help children achieve and that one book can spark a lifetime of ambition in a child. Yet, underserved children are facing increasingly daunting obstacles to their path to success," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. "In low-income communities, there is only one age-appropriate book per 300 children and statistics show children without access to books are well on their way to becoming one of the 33 percent of fourth graders who cannot read at the basic level. It is clear that we have more than an issue to solve; we have a movement to begin. The time for a reading renaissance is now and RIF is calling on all Americans to join us in leading the charge. Together, we can build a literate America."

Congress eliminated $24.8 million in funding for RIF at a time when over 16 million children are living in poverty, the highest in two decades. The overwhelming majority of children in RIF programs qualify for free and reduced lunch and, because of RIF, 4 million children receive 15 million books annually, oftentimes the only books these children own. RIF will not waver in its commitment to ensure every child has adequate access to books. To continue this critical work, RIF is pursuing opportunities to compete for federal funds approved to support literacy services. Alongside this important effort, RIF is uniting its hundreds of thousands of volunteers, community partners, donors and former RIF Kids across the nation through an inspiring evolution of its mission.

A Bold New Commitment to Building a Literate America

Starting today, supporters will see RIF's bold new look and logo which marks the beginning of an awareness campaign designed to honor RIF's iconic brand and spark a widespread movement in support of reading. The new logo is a modern formation of an open book—its openness symbolizes a voice for underserved communities and the world of possibilities opened to children through reading. The new mark is further enhanced by vivid tones of yellow and blue, creating a symbol that is electric and boldly stands as a badge of honor for all people that believe in the power of reading. RIF's re-energized image is just the first step in many planned for their anniversary year to help book people across the nation unite.

As RIF begins to write the next chapter in its storied history, the organization will also embark on a number of key initiatives to provide the resources needed to build engaged communities of readers.

  • National Brand Awareness Campaign, a widespread movement that ignites a culture of reading in America in which all children have access to books and literacy support that empowers them to write their best life story. The campaign aptly named, Book People Unite, calls on anyone who appreciates the power of reading to help get more books to more children.
  • RIF National Registry, a new program model designed to provide local RIF programs with a wide range of benefits and tools to improve literacy in their communities.
  • Multicultural Book Collection, a set of 45 high-quality children's books curated by RIF's Literacy Advisory Board and Multicultural Advisory Committee. Nearly 600 collections will be distributed annually to select RIF programs across the country. The 2011 collection features myriad cultures through the theme "celebration" and has accompanying activities aligned with the Common Core State Standards. A full list of titles is available at
  • Mobile Applications, an expanded effort in the digital realm to create mobile literary experiences for children and families to enjoy while on the go.
  • Family Engagement, a series of literacy grants, customized training programs and local reading celebrations empowering families in underserved communities to develop the skills and confidence to guide their children's reading, learning and love of books.

Celebrating the Gift of Reading with the Library of Congress

Today, RIF will honor its supporters with a special 45th anniversary event hosted by the Library of Congress, a longtime partner of RIF. The Library of Congress Young Readers Center will open the doors of the nation's library to an online audience for an interactive "RIF Live" event. The loveable main character of the children's book Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by author and illustrator Kevin Henkes, will answer questions from RIF Live viewers. Lily and the Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children's theater in Washington, D.C., will also bring the book to life in a captivating performance for local second grade students.

Additionally, RIF will announce a donation of 70 multicultural book collections to 32 Washington D.C. public schools through an endowment given by Margaret McNamara Pastor, the daughter of RIF's founder. To participate in the anniversary celebration event, visit at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011.

About Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF)

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at

SOURCE Reading Is Fundamental