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Foundation 65 announced the “Family Author Experience,” a new program that promotes literacy enrichment for students K-8 through exploration of the work of nationally renowned children’s author Jack Gantos.

A collaboration of District 65 elementary and middle school teachers and librarians, school PTAs, the Evanston Public Library and Foundation 65, the program will bring Mr. Gantos and his multi-age works to Nichols, Dewey, King Lab, Lincoln, and Washington schools on Oct. 5-7.

The program is made possible through a $10,000 grant from Foundation 65 and additional funding from participating school PTAs.  

Students from the participating five schools will read selected grade-appropriate books written by Mr. Gantos and will get a chance to hear him read from a selection of his work during the school visits. The program is intended to create a shared family and school-wide experience.  

“It is important for students to see that books are written by real people — people who have dealt with similar issues to what some of them face,” said Nichols librarian Kefira Philippe. “Jack Gantos writes from his own experience. He had trouble concentrating in school, [he knows] not all families are picture perfect, and [he understands] that consequences of thoughtless actions can be severe.”

The program will be extended to the broader Evanston community with activities at the Evanston Public Library, which will include a display of student work at the South Branch, book discussions of selected books by Mr. Gantos at the Main Branch and teen activities in the Loft.  

The program will culminate in a showcase of student and school-wide activities at Jack Gantos Family Night at the Evanston Public Library on Dec. 8.

“Foundation 65 is pleased to support this unique program, which creates connections between the classroom and the community,” said Lise Jinno, Executive Director of Foundation 65. “By providing funds for literacy and arts-related programs that enrich and enhance D65 curricular goals, Foundation 65 is committed to improving the educational experience for all students.”