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Celebrating a great American novelist in November

When in doubt, tell the truthWhen:  November 30

What: Mark Twain, tagged as one of the great American novelists of his day, is among many greats in classic literature. Celebrate his birthday on Nov. 30, and encourage children to begin reading at an early age and to take an interest in classic novels.

Background: Born Samuel Clemens in 1835, Twain wrote his most famous books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Prince and the Pauper, while living in Hartford, Connecticut. Today, his books are considered classics and are studied in schools across the country. Controversy also surrounds The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has made banned book lists for its portrayal of racism and coarse language.

Story Pitch: A number of groups and organizations can pitch around Mark Twain’s birthday. Local libraries will want to promote the month by hosting read-a-thons and reading contests, encouraging young readers to dive into books. Schools may also plan celebrations around Twain’s birthday, noting his important historical impact on literature. Book stores can also promote Mark Twain’s birthday by offering a selection of his most famous works as well as other classic novels on display.

Story Hook: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 53 percent of children ages three to five are read to daily by a family member. Consider the following when you make your pitch:

  • In a world when time is of the essence, how can parents carve out daily reading time with their children?
  • What local library programs are available for young readers? For teens?
  • What age should parents begin reading to their children?
  • How does reading to children at a young age help development and growth?

Tips: A librarian who specializes in classic novels can offer suggestions on how to get younger children interested in reading. In addition, a family who reads together every night may have suggestions on carving out time from a busy schedule for reading.

Resources:

American Library Association
(312) 944-6780
ala(at)ala.org
www.ala.org

International Reading Association
(302) 731-1600
www.reading.org

Mark Twain House and Museum
(860) 247-0998
www.marktwainhouse.org

National Education Association
(202) 833-4000
www.nea.org

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