Columnist Receives Award for Literacy Advocacy

Sue Subel was hooked.



She said that she has always read the work of’s columnist Margaret Bernstein, but one particular column about the importance of fathers reading to their children really moved her.

But it wasn’t just Bernstein’s writing style that impressed Subel, the immediate past president of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association. Bernstein has been active in pushing the importance of reading with children, including organizing a “flash mob” to give out free books to Cleveland families and supporting an international organization that turns small birdhouses into pop-up libraries.

“I just thought her ideas were ingenious,” Subel said. “They went above and beyond most literacy initiatives you see. She’s made herself a presence in the Cleveland area for these children to promote literacy.”

Those literacy initiatives and Bernstein’s overall commitment to education, Subel said, made her the perfect candidate to be the first recipient of the organization’s Literacy Leader Award. The award recognizes individuals who work to encourage OELMA's goals of meeting the needs of Ohio students while stressing the importance of literacy and school libraries.

That’s become even more imperative with the recent implementation of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which requires third graders to score above a certain level on the state’s reading test before they can move on to fourth grade.

During the 2005-2006 school year, about 19 percent of Ohio's third graders ranked as proficient in reading, according to data from the Ohio State Department of Education. During the 2012-2013 school year, that number dropped to about 16 percent.

Bernstein’s award will be presented at 3 p.m. on October 8 at the Toby Lewis Theatre at the Idea Center in Cleveland.

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