Lacey literacy program places works of poetry in limelight

The poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye is passing through the hands of Lacey readers this month as part of the fourth annual Lacey Loves to Read program.

Launched in 2004 with author Gary Soto, Lacey Loves to Read is a community reading initiative designed to increase discussions about diversity, promote literacy and create book groups throughout the city.

"Turning out kids who are readers is to me the primary objective of the education process," said Graeme Sackrison, a Lacey councilman who is reading Nye's "Baby Radar" to preschool students this month as part of the program.

Nye of San Antonio is the author of more than 20 volumes of poetry, including "19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East," and "Habibi," a novel about a teenage girl's transition of moving from the United States to Jerusalem.

Those books are geared toward older students; colorful pictures and images in "Baby Radar," the story of a toddler's view of the world from her stroller, are aimed at preschoolers.

Sarah Applegate, teacher librarian at River Ridge High School, said Nye was a perfect candidate for the fourth year of the reading program because she writes books that appeal to all ages and she offers a new life perspective for many youths.

"We love having authors that show diverse, ethnic and social experiences," Applegate said.

Lacey Loves to Read was sparked by a similar program in Seattle that was geared toward adults, North Thurston Public Schools spokeswoman Courtney Shrieve said.

"We wanted something unique to Lacey that would involve all ages," she said.

Last year, nearly 10,000 students and residents participated, Applegate said. Other authors have included Jane Yolen and Walter Dean Myers.

The Timberland Regional Library, North Thurston Public Schools and the city of Lacey collaborate to put on the program, which has expanded beyond Lacey to include community partners such as Sylvan Learning and Olympia's De Colores Books. Upcoming events for Lacey Loves to Read

Poetry Reading

7 p.m. Thursday, Olympic Crest Coffee Roasters, 4211 Pacific Ave. S.E. Hosted by librarians from Timberland Regional Library and North Thurston Public Schools. The event will include snacks, a poetry reading and a spoken-word performance by Komachin Middle School's Canzon Bella choral group.

Meet the author community reception

7 p.m. March 1, Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. Lacey Loves to Read author Naomi Shihab Nye will speak, and representatives of De Colores Books will sell her books.

For information about Lacey Loves to Read, go to

www.nthurston.k12.wa.us/read or call 360-491-3860.