KRAFT FOODS PROMOTES THE JOY OF READING AMONG HISPANIC CHILDREN IN CHICAGO

KRAFT FOODS PROMOTES THE JOY OF READING AMONG HISPANIC CHILDREN IN CHICAGO

Hispanic Literacy Campaign Involves Book Readings and After-School Reading Program Partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America


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CHICAGO,–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–November 18, 2002–raft Foods has joined forces with Selecciones magazine and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (B&GCA) to help encourage reading among Chicago Latino children. As part of “Celebremos Los Libros,” a Kraft Foods’ sponsored book review series in Selecciones, Hispanic book authors will read to kids at the upcoming Latino Book & Family Festival on November 23-24 at Sportsman’s Park, from noon to 5PM.

Children from local Boys & Girls Clubs will be attending the Festival and participating in the book readings. Their attendance is an extension of Kraft’s sponsorship of the KidzLit reading program for selected Chicago-area Boys & Girls Clubs. Kraft Foods is committed to helping provide school age children with enriching literacy programs and access to books that develop important lifelong skills and can better prepare them for their future.

A recent study found that an astonishing 58% of Hispanic fourth graders lack basic reading skills. Furthermore, two-thirds of American classrooms have fewer than 50 children’s books, and almost 60% of childcare centers buy fewer than one book per child a year. These statistics illustrate a dire situation for Hispanic children’s academic future since experts agree that reading strengthens a child’s resolve to learn.

“Kraft Foods has nourished the lives of millions of families for nearly 100 years. We are committed to continuing this tradition by delivering quality, great tasting products and by supporting initiatives that enrich the lives of our consumers and their families,” says Deborah Mackiewicz, Kraft Foods Manager of Multicultural Strategy. “Supporting literacy programs that develop Hispanic children’s understanding of and improve their access to books is such an empowering initiative. Partnering with a quality kid-focused organization such as the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs in Chicago enables Kraft to have an immediate impact on at-risk school-aged children in safe, nurturing environments.”

Kraft Foods is donating KidzLit reading kits to local Boys & Girls Clubs in Chicago, to help build the Club members’ reading and life skills. The kits were developed by leading education professionals and include teaching guides, student workbooks and copies of the featured children’s books. The featured books are age-specific and demonstrate compelling themes that deal with important human values and dilemmas like honesty, legacy, peer pressure and self-esteem – essential subjects for character development. Furthermore, they are written by authors with diverse ethnic backgrounds that reflect the communities of today.

“A child’s reading comprehension ability and verbal skills are directly correlated to the quantity of text they read. Since kids are typically given little in-school time for reading, having enough out-of-school reading time becomes very critical,” said MaryAnn Mahon-Huels, executive director of the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs in Chicago. “Because of Kraft Foods’ donation of these high quality, comprehensive reading program kits, all of our members will be able to strengthen their individual reading and life skills.”

The Latino Book & Family Festival offers an ideal setting for further promoting a lifelong love of reading. The Festival reflects the diversity of the Latino literary community through an impressive roster of Hispanic writers. Since its inception in 1997, the Festival’s attendance has more than tripled in size.

About the KidzLit Program

Kidzlit is an academic enrichment program that helps children develop a love of reading while building literacy and character. The program is uniquely designed for after-school programs and integrates academic, social and ethical development in students. Using compelling age-specific books, children ages 5-13 enhance their reading competency and engage in discussions about the values and ethics that are embedded in the books. The selected books represent a range of ethnicities and cultures and lay the basis for discussion among the children of the Boys & Girls Club.

By reading aloud to youth, Club staff members expose all youth, even those who are not yet skilled readers or accomplished decoders of the language, to high-quality, enjoyable literature that is relevant to their lives. By thinking, talking and writing about the content of the books, all participants experience the pleasures of literacy firsthand. Loud readings also helps build young readers’ listening skills and familiarity with the structure and syntax of the written word, as well as improving their vocabulary and background.

The program materials include a book selection and facilitator guides to help Boys & Girls Club professionals introduce youngsters to books and facilitate discussions related to the readings as well as other leisure activities.

About the Kraft/Selecciones Partnership

Kraft Foods and Selecciones have partnered with an exclusive book review program that encourages reading in Spanish while celebrating the Hispanic experience. “Celebramos Los Libros” (Let’s Read Together) recommends books for Spanish-speaking parents to read to their children via an in-magazine advertising series that includes a one-page book review. This program also invites consumers to visit Comidakraft.com, an award winning Hispanic website, where they will have the opportunity to receive, free of charge, the book being featured in that month’s issue of Selecciones. The “Celebramos Los Libros” spirit is brought to life at the Latino Book & Family Festival where Hispanic children are exposed to quality literature through scheduled book readings by Hispanic authors.

About Kraft Foods

In more than 145 countries, Kraft Foods, Inc. manufactures and markets some of the world’s favorite food and beverage brands including KRAFT SINGLES cheese, CAPRI SUN, FRUITY PEBBLES cereal, OREO cookies, CHIPS AHOY cookies, RITZ crackers, KOOL-AID, JELL-O, CORN NUTS, OSCAR MAYER hot dogs, and LUNCHABLES.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (http://www.bgca.org) comprises a network of more than 3,000 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving some 3.3 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances. Known as “The Positive Place for Kids,” Clubs provide guidance-oriented programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full time professional staff. Key programs emphasize character and leadership development, educational enhancement, career preparation, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.

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CONTACT:
Arantxa Perez
Edelman Diversity Solutions
212/704-8128

KRAFT FOODS PROMOTES THE JOY OF READING AMONG HISPANIC CHILDREN IN CHICAGO