For its success in promoting love of reading among the young, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Read-Along program has won the silver award for “Enduring Excellence in Public Service” at the annual World Young Reader Prize competition of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-Ifra).
The awards will be given out during the Youth Engagement Summit scheduled for Dec. 2 to 4 in Warsaw, Poland.
The top gold award in the Enduring Excellence category was shared by The New York Times’ Learning Network and The Guardian’s Guardian Education Centre.
“I am bursting with joy and pride. Congratulations and thank you to the read-along team,” said Inquirer president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez.
Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc said: “I’m not surprised. It had to happen because of all the hard work and enthusiasm, the passion that went into the project.”
It was Magsanoc who christened the then unnamed reading program “Inquirer Read-Along.”
The Inquirer was advised of its award by a letter from Aralynn McMane, WAN-Ifra executive director for youth engagement and news literacy.
The awards were for news publishers from more than a dozen countries that had found innovative ways to attract the young to the news.
The Enduring Excellence Award “emphasizes the staying power of young reader initiatives and the kind of excellence that continues to offer benefits to the news publisher and to the young over time.”
In announcing the awards, WAN-Ifra judges said: “The growth and demand of this program since its inception clearly demonstrates its success.”
The judges called the program a “wonderful public service activity [that] offers fantastic visibility.”
Joy of reading
Past winners of WAN-Ifra’s Enduring Excellence Award included The Sun Sentinel (Florida, the United States), Berliner Zeitung (Germany), Oppland Arbeiderblad (Norway), Polskapresse (Poland) and Westdeutsche Zeitung (Germany).
Launched in May 2007 by Inquirer Research, Inquirer Library and Junior Inquirer, the Inquirer Read-Along aims to spread the joy and fun of reading among children aged 7 to 13 through interactive and wacky storytelling sessions with celebrities and other role models.
From a small and intimate first storytelling session with a handful of kids at the newspaper’s library, the program soon expanded to include reading sessions outside the Inquirer offices and across the nation.
These sessions involved the participation of four Inquirer bureaus in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
In December 2011, the Inquirer Read-Along program was declared the overall grand winner in the communication management division of the 10th Philippine Quill Awards for staging 25 simultaneous storytelling sessions across the country on Dec. 4, 2010.
It was considered the most prestigious national citation and a yardstick for international competence in business communication.
The program also received the Quill Award of Excellence for the same project held in 25 locations nationwide as part of the Inquirer’s 25th anniversary celebration.
The program’s first Award of Excellence was also given by the Philippine Quill in 2008, barely a year after the program was launched.
The program has also been recognized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Reading Association of the Philippines.
Since November 2011, the program has staged the annual Inquirer Read-Along Festival, which features a two-day marathon of reading sessions in a single venue and storytelling competitions for students and adults.
About 1,000 children attended the festival, held in 2011 at the GT-Toyota Auditorium at the University of the Philippines in Diliman and last year at the amphitheater of the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.
In May, the program launched its Read-Along Ambassadors program, which featured celebrities who pledged to be role models for the youth and promote love for reading.
Last week, it launched the Read-Along Caravan, a series of sessions led by Read-Along Ambassadors in various Metro Manila schools. This is a run-up to this year’s festival to be held in November at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.