Aliteracy, n., the condition or quality of being literate, but choosing not to read.
Aliteracy is the term the Association of American Publishers has coined to describe people who are able to read, but who choose not to read, except for occasional newspaper headlines, television listings, and road signs. To motivate the increasing numbers of aliterates in the U.S., the aap has launched an "I'd Rather Be Reading" campaign.
Joined by the American Booksellers Association and the National Association of College Stores, the aap plans to produce buttons, bumper stickers, and other materials for use by booksellers, librarians, and publishers to promote the motivation effort.
"We've tried other slogans," said Parker Ladd, aap's publishing director, but none of the others has been "as well received by the general public as this has." It seems to have hit a nerve, he added.
The campaign, which was inspired, according to Mr. Ladd, by an editor's comment that she would rather be reading, will be the theme of the booksellers' annual meeting in Dallas this week.
The average library in the U.S. stocks on its shelves 10 percent or less of the books deemed by the Moral Majority, the national fundamentalist organization led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, to be "conservative." This finding is the result of a still-in-progress anti-censorship survey conducted by Mr. Falwell's group to "make sure that all views have an opportunity to be heard [and that] none are suppressed," according to Cal Thomas, vice president for communications and author of Book Burning, a book that was published last week.
Earlier this year, the Moral Majority sent to supporters of the Lynchburg, Va., organization "several hundred thousand" survey sheets listing 62 conservative books in 10 categories.
The surveys asked that the recipients "go in and check out the card catalogue file" of their local library and determine if the listed books are on the shelves, according to Mr. Thomas.
If the surveyors found that conservative books were poorly represented in the local library, according to Mr. Thomas, they were to "appeal to the librarians to balance up the collection." The Moral Majority's position was, in Mr. Thomas's words: "Don't ban the other people's perspective, don't take any books off the shelf, but how about adding ours."
And in response to those librarians who "plead poverty" as a reason for not carrying a particular conservative book, the Moral Majority is developing a way to donate books to certain libraries.
Among the 62 books on the list are Gay is Not Good; Evolution: The Fossils Say No!; The Sweetheart of the Silent Majority: Phyllis Schlafly; and Scientific Creationism: Public School Edition.
In a venture that marks its first effort to market books directly to the general public, the National Education Association has joined Avon Books to produce a series called "How to Prepare Your Child for School." The series, for parents of pre-school children, will be unveiled at the nea's annual meeting in Philadelphia next month.
Written by experts in the field of early-childhood development, the books were developed "to fill a need that we see out in the book marketplace ... for materials to help parents prepare their child for a successful school career," according to Sam Pizzigati, associate director of communications for the teachers' group.
Each of the eight books in the series contains 64 pages and will sell for $1.95. Titles include: Learning the Alphabet, How Letters Make Words, Shapes and Patterns, and Numbers and Counting.
The series is scheduled to reach bookstores by early summer and to be on display in supermarkets and drugstores by early fall.
"This is the first [nea series of its kind]," said Mr. Pizzigati. ''We hope to have many more books in this nea library series," he said.
Next fall, ABC-TV plans to introduce young viewers to Cap'n O.G. Readmore, a friendly feline who is street smart, self-educated, and very interested in reading.
A joint venture by the network and the Library of Congress's Center for the Book, the cartoon cat will make his debut in September during Saturday-morning cartoon programs.
The character, who tap-dances in a colorful outfit, will move to prime-time shows later in the year, appearing in commercial breaks during programs that are related to reading, such as the adaptation of The Wind and the Willows that ABC will air in the fall, according to Nancy F. Bush, director of the Library of Congress' information office.
In addition, Cap'n Readmore's picture has been imprinted on bookmarks and will be used in library displays around the nation.
ABC's reading campaign joins CBS's "Read More About It," a project that provides viewers of made-for-TV movies with bibliographic information about the movies' subjects. The CBS campaign is also sponsored by the Center for the Book.
Children's magazines have come a long way since the days of My Weekly Reader and Highlights. Today, 9 million children subscribe to 24 children's magazines, ranging in topic from outer space to fiction to photography, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The inspiration for many children's magazines comes straight from the television set, with publications like Sesame Street, Muppet, and Electric Company Magazine providing posters, puzzles, and cutouts of favorite television characters.
Other magazines publish works of art and literature by young creators: Cricket (fiction and art), Cobblestone (history, fiction, and puzzles), and Stone Soup (fiction, book reviews, and art) are just a few.
Science magazines are numerous: Odyssey (for the outer-space adventurer), World (a child's version of National Geographic), Scienceland (for preschoolers), and Ranger Rick (for older children) help teach children the wonders of science.
Even subjects such as money management (Penny Power), black history and culture (Ebony Jr.!), and piano music (Sheetmusic Magazine) have their own publications for children.
And Scholastic Inc., publisher of Scholastic News and Science World, has published special periodicals on computers to help teachers better understand changes in technology that could, or do, affect the classroom.
Most children's magazines contain little or no advertising and are similar in design to their adult counterparts. To discover the best magazines for students, check Magazines for Libraries at most libraries.--ab