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2009.09.11 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Family Literacy Events in Omaha, Council Bluffs

Omaha - A well-known illustrator and winner of the Jane Addams Award, Chris Soentpiet and his wife/collaborator, author Yin Soentpiet (pronounced “soon-peet”), will speak at a handful of events in September and October aimed to promote literacy. Their visit, hosted by the Omaha Family Literacy Partnership, is part of the Del and Lou Ann Weber Lecture Series.

Coolies, winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award in 2001 and the winner of the 2002 International Reading Association (IRA) Children’s Book of the Year, chronicles Yin Soentpiet’s ancestor’s experience during construction of the transcontinental railroad.

Chris and Yin Sonetpiet’s shared schedule is as follows. All events are free and open to the public:

• Thursday, Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. Presentation and autograph session at the Thompson Alumni Center on the UNO campus. Books will be available for purchase by The Bookworm.

• Saturday, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. Autograph and informal visits with the author and illustrator at the Metropolitan Reading Council’s family/community event, "Engaging in Literacy," at the Thompson Alumni Center on the UNO campus.

• Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St. in Council Bluffs. The program includes a discussion on collaboration for the book as well as a drawing demonstration by Chris Soentpiet. Coolies will be available for sale in the museum gift shop.

• Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. at the new Saddlebrook branch of the Omaha Public Library, 14850 Laurel Ave. The duo will discuss the art and process of putting together a children's book. Books will be available for purchase with a book signing session to follow the program.

“The funding support from both the Nebraska Humanities Council and Humanities Iowa offers the Council Bluffs and Omaha communities a unique opportunity to hear an award-winning author/illustrator team speak about the research process required for creating historical fiction and biography genres,” said Susan McWilliams, event organizer and UNO College of Education assistant professor. “Their presentation bridges history with present-day immigrants’ stories and connects with our communities’ shared railroad history.”

Chris and Yin Soentpiet will visit five elementary schools and conduct 14 presentations to approximately 2,000 students and their teachers in Omaha and Council Bluffs.

• Monday, Sept. 28: Washington Elementary School in Council Bluffs

• Tuesday, Sept. 29: Walnut Grove Elementary School in Council Bluffs

• Wednesday, Sept. 30: Crestridge Magnet Center in Omaha

• Thursday, Oct. 1: Gilder Elementary School in Omaha

• Friday, Oct. 2: Fontenelle Elementary School in Omaha

The Omaha Family Literacy Partnership, housed in the College of Education at UNO, regularly organizes free literacy events for students and their families in the community.

For more information visit www.soentpiet.com -- or the Omaha Family Literacy Partnership’s Web site: http://coe.unomaha.edu/oflp

The Omaha Family Literacy Partnership recognizes the power of building a culture of literacy as a simple, yet very successful, community effort to boost early childhood growth and development. A community culture of literacy supports young children in their journeys toward literacy learning. Author and illustrator events are designed to promote reading among families of young children in the Omaha metropolitan region.

Community partners who share the vision of building a culture of literacy for young people in our community include the Omaha Public Library, Henry Doorly Zoo, El Museo Latino, Omaha Public Schools, Council Bluffs Community School District, Omaha Children’s Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, The Durham Museum, Council Bluffs Public Library, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Loves Jazz and Arts Center and Midlands Literacy Center.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The celebration recognizes the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908. This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to www.unomaha.edu/100/.

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