During times of economic recessions affecting both state and national governments, education along with cultural studies are usually underfunded. The lack of funds within education creates literate disparities within the national population to the point where 20 percent of United States workers are considered functionally illiterate. This percentage, seemingly small on the onset, is actually abysmal when compared to other developed nations.
How do we fix this? Due to political agendas and bureaucracy changing government can prove to be very difficult, thus the proposal of getting both the parent and community involved is essential. Why focus on children? Well that’s because research has shown that the more we expose young people to literature, the more they can build on their vocabulary and encourage further educational habits that are pivotal to both their futures and our country’s as a whole.
At The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, we are doing just that! The museum sponsored Book Fair & Literacy Family Day is a collaborative approach of bringing local children’s book authors, parents, and children to celebrate reading in all of its forms. Research shows that most parents often find it difficult to locate and purchase books for their children, and find the time to read to their children daily due to ever-busier schedules. Actually 13 million children 5 and under go to bed every night without a bedtime story, which is a disappointing because books written for children contain 50 percent more rare words than prime time television or even college student conversations. In this environment kids within the Jacksonville area will be offered a venue to expand their vocabulary and spend time with their peers to celebrate learning.
So what are we offering? We have over 28 authors and illustrators coming to participate in Words of Art: A Children’s Book Fair & Literacy Family Day. Through out the day we will have local celebrities reading to children, including writer Brandy Hilbolt Allport from The Florida Times Union, and our very own Museum Director, Hope McMath. Parents and children will be able to participate in numerous activities, including a scavenger hunt, a studio art project, gallery tours, and Make Art Now! In the Gardens, families will be able to enjoy music by Ajamu Mutima, view a theatrical presentation of Emma’s House of Sound will take place in the Auditorium.
As an added bonus, the Museum is partnering with Books-A-Go-Go, a local nonprofit that provides free books to low income children. Every person who attends the Book Fair will have the opportunity to purchase a book for themselves and one to donate to the cause.
So mark your calendars for November 17, 2012 from noon to 4pm and admission is free for everyone!