FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Date: January 30, 2003

         Contact: Donna McCracken, 206-6716


UIS to sponsor local participation in national “Read-In”


SPRINGFIELD The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Center for Governmental Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield will sponsor local participation in the 14th Annual African American Read-In on Monday, February 3. That afternoon, members of the UIS community will visit five Springfield elementary schools to read to assemblies of more than 2,300 children.

The African American Read-In is sponsored nationally by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English and the NCTE in observance of Black History Month. The objective is to promote family, community, and school reading celebrations featuring the works of African Americans. The Springfield program is designed to help introduce students in grades K-5 to black writers and their contributions to literature.

Peggy Dunn, project director of the Public Policy High School Initiatives within UIS’ Lincoln Presidential Center, is coordinating the campus’ effort. Said Dunn, “This has been a labor of enthusiasm for me, focusing on literacy and our ability to share the wealth of our knowledge with children. All of us at UIS hope that the children will ‘read on’ because of this read-in.’”

The work selected for the Springfield read-in is The Best of the Brownies’ Book, an anthology of original articles, stories, and poems that appeared in The Brownies’ Book, a magazine for African American children edited and published in the 1920s by W.E.B. DuBois


and whose contributors included Langston Hughes.

The five Springfield schools that will be read-in sites are DuBois, Harvard Park,

Ridgely, McClernand, and Jane Addams. Volunteer readers from UIS are Michael Cheney, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and his wife, Karen; Chris Miller, interim vice chancellor for student affairs; Ernest Cowles, interim executive director of the Lincoln Presidential Center; Rachell Anderson, associate professor of Human Services; Loretta Meeks, professor of Teacher Education; and two of Meeks’ students from the Minority Student Support for Teaching project.  Allan Cook, associate professor of Teacher Education, and some of his pre-service students are also participating.

Each reader has been asked to make a selection from The Best of the Brownies’ Book to first read to the students, then share some of the reasons why they chose that particular piece. Following the assembly, readers will present the book to the school library and challenge the children to read it themselves and choose their own favorite pieces.

In conjunction with the read-in, Dunn has assembled resource packets for teachers of the 65 classrooms that will be involved. These packets include ideas and materials for activities such as a Martin Luther King, Jr. coloring page, a lesson plan on Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, a black heritage stamp project, a black history treasure hunt, and a study of the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Adding another local connection to the program, in mid-February ALPCGS will donate copies of Mr. Lincoln and the Time Train to students chosen by lot, the principal, and the library at each of the read-in sites. This new book was written by children as part of the activities surrounding the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield last November.

For more information about the UIS read-in, contact Dunn at 206-7399. For more information about the NCTE’s national effort, go to