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Signing Up to Support Reading

Literacy: Mayor Hahn, Tommy Lasorda and others add their signatures to a program that will donate 20,000 books to local children.


A giant red book--12 feet high and 15 feet wide--was on display on the UCLA campus Wednesday as part of a nationwide tour to encourage children to read.

The Gift of Reading Tour, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Co., the book publisher Scholastic and First Book, a national nonprofit organization, stopped in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday to gather signatures for the cause.

For every signature collected in the big book, corporate sponsors will donate a new book to a child. The goal is to distribute 20,000 books to children in Los Angeles, and 100,000 books to children across the country.

"This really is a call to action," said Chandler Arnold, director of corporate strategy for First Book. "We want to encourage individuals from all sectors to come forward and, in a very simple way, sign to signify their support of reading and literacy."

The tour kicked off in Chicago last month then traveled to Missouri and Los Angeles, where it stopped at Maguire Gardens at the Central Library on Tuesday and UCLA on Wednesday. It travels next to Washington and Atlanta.

Signatures from Mayor James K. Hahn, former Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda and UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale were added to the giant book, which had received autographs from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Missouri Gov. Bob Holden.

"I think we will exceed the goal," said Arnold. "We expect to be able to give all 20,000 books that we've hoped for, even with the rainy weather yesterday."

Books in Spanish and English will be distributed to low-income children in Los Angeles, ages of 3 to 5.

"We're getting such a warm reception from people and I think it's because people realize they don't have to give money for it," said Natalie Jones, a spokeswoman for the tour. "It's a simple call to action for adults to get involved in kids' reading habits."

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