Reading Summit Held at Headquarters Coon Rapids Lions in Minnesota play not Bingo but BANGO with students while visiting elementary schools. Letters printed on flashcards are called out, and students whose tokens form a full row receive a brand new book. Middletown Township Lions in New Jersey took another approach to encourage reading. They held a literacy event at a school that featured music, dancing, magic, face painters, balloon artists, comedians, and, of course, books and reading. The aim was the same but the means were different halfway around the world in Singapore where Singapore Chatsworth Lions enlisted the wife of the high commissioner to read books by British author Roald Dahl to schoolchildren. Lions worldwide are embracing President Wayne Madden’s Reading Action Program (RAP). So far, 56,627 total activities have been reported, serving nearly 6 million people through 2.1 million Lions service hours. Building on Lions’ enthusiasm for literacy, Lions Clubs International near Chicago is hosting a Reading and Literacy Summit on May 1. Nearly 30 organizations will convene to promote literacy. Participants include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Vision, CARE, Aga Khan Development Network, Reading Is Fundamental, Reach Out and Read, Scholastic International, the Perkins School for the Blind, the Hadley School for the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, Benetech Initiative (Bookshare), Special Olympics, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and Nokia. The summit will seek practical, low-cost strategies to promote early reading, improved access to education for marginalized populations and learning environments that meet the needs of children with disabilities. Participants will focus on several key questions. Regarding global literacy, what has been achieved? What needs to be done? What is the role of civil society? Regarding early reading and book distribution, what can be done at the community level to promote early reading and what are the most effective means to distribute low-cost, age- and culturally-appropriate books to children in need? Questions also swirl around literacy for those with visual impairments and other disabilities. What are the barriers to inclusion and how can vision care improve school performance? Finally, regarding the role of technology, how can e-readers, mobile devices and other innovative tools improve literacy?
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