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February will mark the kickoff of a year-long campaign to promote reading in Guilford County. The campaign, Community of Readers, will provide monthly programs, such as seminars and projects, which will focus on and celebrate specific communities of readers from the baby to the retired citizen, the illiterate to the scholar, and the pleasure reader to the workplace reader.

``The goal of the Community of Readers campaign is to focus on and build support for all of the area's ongoing literacy and reading programs,' said Mary Kit Dunn, a community volunteer who is serving as general chair of the effort. Lee Kinard of WFMY-TV will serve as honorary chairman.``Public and private funds are continuously fed into various literacy and educational programs throughout out the area, but there is not any single umbrella under which all of these programs can be identified,' Dunn said. ``The Community of Readers will showcase these diverse programs, help broaden their reach and work to increase their effectiveness. Dunn said.

Through the program, organizers hope to increase the amount of reading among young people; raise public awareness of the value of reading; mobilize business, government and civic support to make reading a priority; and create a model reading motivation program that may be used by other communities in the state.

Several events are planned to celebrate the year, including a writing contest, seminars, workshops, theater performances, and an appearance of the ``Ringling Readers,' presented by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Currently, the Community of Readers, in conjunction with the Friends of the Southeast Branch Library, is sponsoring a writing contest for area students. The contest, titled ``It All Started Here,' is open to all students throughout the county. They are challenged to write a poem, essay or rap about the Feb. 1, 1960 lunch counter sit-in means to them 30 years later. The winners will be announced Feb. 1.

A part of the February Community of Readers celebration will be the Touring Theatre Ensemble's production of ``Down a Lonesome Road,' a staging of three short stories by Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ``The Color Purple.' The premiere presentation will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, in St. Stephen United Church of Christ, 1000 Gorrell St. It is open to the public and free of charge.

A special Mayor's Breakfast will be hosted by Greensboro Mayor Vic Nussbaum Tuesday, Feb. 13. The breakfast will focus on ``Corporate Leadership in Literacy in the Workplace.' Seventeen area businesses that sponsor a variety of literacy programs in their workplace will be recognized for their efforts to support literacy.

In mid-February, Ringling Readers will come to the area. The program, now in its third year, is free and is conducted in cooperation with Reading is Fundamental, a nationwide educational organization whose purpose is to promote reading.

On Feb 5, two Ringling clowns will visit area schools and library branches to present their comedy magic show, ``Reading Lets You Imagine,' which is designed to show children that reading is fun. The presentations at the branches will be open to the public; the schedule is being finalized.

As a special treat, the Community of Readers and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will present a ``Circus with the Stars' reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 in the Blue Room of the Greensboro Coliseum. During the event, families can meet the circus stars. Tickets, which include light refreshments and a seat at the evening performance, are on sale for $20 and are fully tax deductible. Call 373-2392 for ticket information.

Among the other events planned for the year are ``Catch 'Em in the Cradle,' a series of programs to be presented in 10 neighborhoods. The programs instruct parents in pre-reading activities for young children' a ``Growing Up Reading' workshop; and a Read-a-thon scheduled for September.

The Community of Readers program is being organized by a coalition of more than 30 representatives from various groups interested in promoting literacy, including the Guilford County and Greensboro City Schools, Guilford Technical Community College, Greensboro College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro and High Point libraries, RELA, the National Black Child Development Institute, Junior League of Greensboro, Greensboro News & Record, WFMY-TV, Guilford County Community Action, corporate and business representatives, and community volunteers.

The program is made possible by support from Duke Power Co., Biscuitville, Dillard Paper, the Greensboro News & Record, Southern Foods, Guilford Mills, Coleman Envelope, First Citizens Bank, Wilpar Development Corp., Thompson-Arthur Paving Co., Dudley Products, the City of Greensboro, the Sydney Cone Family, Mr. and Mrs. James E. Dunn, and Mr. and Mrs. L. Richardson Preyer.

For more information about the Community of Readers Program, call 373-2392.


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