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Graphic Communications Students Promote Literacy in School Visit

Megan L. Kime of Gardners, president of the Gamma Epsilon Tau graphic-arts fraternity, works with youngsters during an April 13 visit to Lyter Elementary School in Montoursville. (Photo provided by James P. Lentz, associate professor, graphic communications.) We live in a print-rich environment. Printing is everywhere we look, in every facet of our lives, from books, newspapers and magazines to instruction manuals, clothing labels, price tags and food packaging.

Printing is so important to our society and our culture that the development of moveable type by Johann Gutenberg has been called the greatest invention of the last millennium. The need to be able to read and interpret all of this printing is essential.

The need to read is so essential, and yet children are not growing up to love and appreciate reading, writing and words the way they once were. They are not learning to embrace print media.

This and other factors are leading to a growing rate of illiteracy in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education reports that almost 40 percent of fourth-graders are not reading and writing at a basic level.

Printing and publishing professionals are in a perfect position to promote literacy. Each day they literally are surrounded by the knowledge and tools to promote reading and writing to others.

Their business role alone is a prime example of the value of mastering reading and writing skills. As an owner, employee or student of a graphic communications organization, these individuals already are positioned as ambassadors for reading and writing. They can be champions of the printed word, symbols of respect for books, and enthusiastic representatives for a lifelong love for reading and writing.

To help in this effort, James P. Lentz, associate professor of graphics communications; students in that major and members of Gamma Epsilon Tau, a professional fraternity for the graphic arts, visited Lyter Elementary School in Montoursville earlier this month to share ideas from the “Books Are Alive! Literacy Outreach Program.”

This national program was developed by the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation to help enhance the understanding, appreciation and use of the written word among children. Penn College students visited with children in Lyter’s first-grade classes and read a chapter from the book, “Benjamin Saves the Books,” a story about a boy who discovers the reality of a world without printed words and thereby learns the value of printing and its impact in their day-to-day lives.

Students held a discussion with the students and discussed ways in which printing is part of their daily lives. The pupils received bookmarks, a coloring book and a certificate for their participation.

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