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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 13, 2006

Reading Program Culminates With Student Attendance Of Cirque Eloize

Children and their families from Iowa City, Coralville, Hills and North Liberty will attend the Feb. 25 matinee by Cirque Eloize in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium through a partnership with public libraries and local schools. More than 300 tickets were distributed without cost to the families as part of the Title 1 "Family Night at the Library" project.

The performance culminates a project designed to support literacy efforts in the Iowa City Public Schools, to encourage families to use the resources of the Johnson County public libraries and to make it possible for families to attend a performance at Hancher.

Families whose children receive support for learning to read are invited to participate. "This is such fun and so enriching for everyone participating!" says LaDonna Wicklund, a reading specialist at Grant Wood School who founded I Can Read!, a non-profit program that assists beginning readers. "You see lots of smiles from the children."

Debb Green, Children's Services Coordinator of the Iowa City Public Library, explained, "An ongoing partnership between Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City Community School District and the Public Libraries of Johnson County encourages reading, library use, and arts and culture awareness in area elementary schools. This collaboration is funded by an anonymous private family foundation, and involves Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty Public Libraries plus participating Title 1 programs. Those participating this year are Wood, Mann, Twain, Lucas, Coralville Central, Kirkwood, Penn, Van Allen and Hills Elementary Schools."

Green says that the project has a number of educational goals: "The first is to offer Title 1 students, parents and sibling's encouragement in the process of learning about books and reading by providing a field trip, tour and pizza party to a 'Family Night at the Library' event. The second is to inform parents about reading aloud with children. The third is to encourage public library card registration by Title 1 families. The fourth is to give opportunities for families of four to attend a Hancher Auditorium performance. And the fifth is to provide each child with a new paperback book to enjoy and keep."

The subject matter of the distributed books is associated with the Hancher event, so that the children and their families are provided background for a deeper understanding and appreciation on the event.

"It's such a simple idea -- that works," said Judith Hurtig, Hancher's artistic director. "We're delighted that Hancher can be a part of it."

Ten Family Nights were held in September and October with 650 people attending. Drawings were held each night for Cirque Eloize family ticket packages. In addition to the ticket giveaway, more than 400 books were distributed.

Title I is a program of the federal Department of Education, aimed at improving the academic achievement.

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