Although it may not be obvious from its title, No Books Day 2000 was
intended to encourage children to read more.
From the newspaper, that is.
The Deseret News in Salt Lake City designated March 7 as a day to highlight the ways teachers can use newspapers to bring stale textbook topics to life, increase student interest in current events, and gain an appreciation for writing other than fiction.
While the intentions may be good, the irony of the day’s title has not entirely been lost on educators and others.
"It sounds like an awful day," said one staff member at the Utah Office of Education.
A contractor hired to print bookmarks promoting No Books Day 2000 also noticed the contradiction.
But Janice Dole, the director of Utah Reads, a program that links volunteer tutors with struggling readers, believes the premise has value.
"The idea of focusing teachers’ attention on alternative forms of print is a good one, because most children are exposed to books and fiction in the early grades, but not to nonfiction materials," Ms. Dole said.
"But it would be better if it were stated positively and not negatively," she added.
The 18-year-old event has become "so entrenched and well-known" in Utah that the title is not a deterrent, said Carolyn Dickson, who manages the newspapers-in-education office for The Deseret News.
For the fifth year in a row, more than 65,000 copies of the newspaper—about equal to its normal daily circulation—were scheduled to be distributed to Utah’s 40 school districts.
—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Vol. 19, Issue 26, Page 3