Technology may be changing the way people read, but it doesn't make the skill, or the pastime, of reading obsolete, say the librarians, bookshop employees, educators and publishers behind Naperville READS 2014.
The four-day program will give more than 9,000 local students the chance to hear author presentations and participate in book-themed pep rallies, and it will offer members of the public two free chances to get in on the action at evening book-signing events.
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If you goWhat: Naperville READS 2014 author presentations
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 5 and 6
Where: Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
Details: Feb. 5 presentation features Tim Green, Jeramey Kraatz, Peter Lerangis, Caroline Carlson, Nils Johnson-Shelton and Christopher Krovatin; Feb. 6 features Kevin Emerson, Soman Chainani, Chris Rylander, John Kloepfer, Jenny Lee and Tom Watson
Why? Because reading is just as important -- and enjoyable -- as ever, said Becky Anderson, owner of Anderson's Bookshop, which is organizing the reading program.
"We want to make sure we capture kids as readers," Anderson said.
This year's version of the Naperville READS program aims to get students excited about reading by assigning them to a certain author's team for presentations in the style of pep rallies or game shows. The approach is a departure from past READS programs that have featured just one or two authors and selected works for adults and youth.
A total of 12 authors, which Angie Gaul of Anderson's Bookshop said is "by far" the highest number participating in any one year of Naperville READS, will visit students from every school in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 in teams of three.
Kevin Emerson, Soman Chainani and Chris Rylander, who make up team 1; Tim Green, Jeramey Kraatz and Peter Lerangis, team 2; John Kloepfer, Jenny Lee and Tom Watson, team 3; and Caroline Carlson, Nils Johnson-Shelton and Christopher Krovatin, team 4, will promote books with titles like "Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog" or "The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot" to local elementary students.
Gaul said similar teams of authors, which HarperCollins offers through its Class Acts literacy program, have visited two schools in District 204 within the past couple years. The presentations went so well, Anderson's wanted to offer them to more of the community through Naperville READS.
"It gets the most reluctant reader involved," Anderson said.
Students will not be required to read the book by the author whose team they are assigned to, "but we know they'll want to," Anderson said.
The excitement in school begins even before the authors stop by, said Donna Kouri, library media specialist at Longwood Elementary School in District 204. HarperCollins has given each school copies of books by all 12 visiting authors. Librarians are reading excerpts from books by authors who will visit their school, and kids are beginning to check out copies, Kouri said.
"You know how kids get excited about sports? It's the same thing, but with reading," Kouri said. "These authors are superheroes with the kids."
Anyone who won't hear an author presentation at school can attend one of two free events, both at 7 p.m. at North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. The first event on Wednesday, Feb. 5, features authors in groups 2 and 4 (Green, Kraatz, Lerangis, Carlson, Johnson-Shelton and Krovatin), while the second session on Thursday, Feb. 6, spotlights authors in groups 1 and 3 (Emerson, Chainani, Rylander, Kloepfer, Lee and Watson).
Books will be for sale at the evening discussions, but it is not necessary to buy one to attend.
This is the 13th year Naperville READS has been held since it began in 2002 with a focus on works by "Hatchett" author Gary Paulsen. For details about this year's program, visit napervillereads.org or contact Anderson's Bookshop at (630) 355-2665 or andersonsbookshop.com.