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LookingBack April 4

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

Celebration/observations in the month of April include National Library Week, Reading is Fun Week, Listening Day, International Children's Book Day, Encourage a Young Writer Day, School Librarian Day and Tell a Story Day. It seems appropriate to take a look at things related to books and reading.

READING

* Seven out of eight students who have reading problems in the first grade continue to struggle with reading in the ninth grade.

* Improving listening skills is often the easiest way to improve reading skills. Teachers frequently notice that the child who has difficulty listening to a story also struggles to read.

* Reading difficulty is a problem that extends across all socio-economic levels.

* Approximately one-third of all poor readers in the fourth grade have college-educated parents.

* Only about five percent of the nation's children learn to read with complete ease, another 20-30 percent learn with relative ease. The remainder (about 60 percent) have some level of difficulty with reading.

* One tool most homes have but do not use to help children with reading is the closed-captioning feature on the television. Parents in Finland are known for using this TV feature and kids in that country have some of the highest reading scores in the world.

* People today receive more information -- much as the written word -- in one day than many people received in a lifetime in the early 1900s. In fact, a by-product of this "Information Age" is that the amount of knowledge available is doubling every nine months.

* The average person reads 200-250 words per minute -- roughly two minutes per page -- when the material is non-technical. When reading technical material, the rate drops to 50-75 words per minute -- roughly five or six minutes per page.

* In business, the average person spends two hours per day on work-related information management. Of that time 90 percent is spent reading.

* At college, the average student spends between four and five hours each day reading and/or studying. However, the average college graduate will read only five books in his or her post-college lifetime.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

* The Library of Congress was founded in 1800, making it the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation. British troops burned the Capitol Building in 1814, which destroyed the 3,000-volume collection. In 1815, Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of 6,487 books for $23,950.

* There are 142 million items on 650 miles of shelves in the Library.

* Approximately 10,000 items are added to the Library ... daily.

* Collections include materials in some 470 languages.

* The smallest book in the Library is "Old King Cole." It measures 1/25 inch by 1/25 inch. The largest book is a 5-by-7-foot volume featuring color images of the Southeast Asian country of Bhutan.

* One of the most treasured items in the Library is a Gutenberg Bible -- one of three perfect copies in the world.

* The Library is home to 100,000 issues (5,000 titles) of comic books.

OTHER LIBRARIES

* Of all adults in America, 62 percent have a public library card.

* Americans go to school, public and academic libraries three times more often then they go to the movies.

* Reference librarians answer nearly 5.7 million questions weekly.

* College libraries spend less than six cents of every dollar spent on higher education.

* South Carolina reports that the total direct and indirect return on each dollar spent on its public libraries is $4.48 -- almost 350 percent.

* Of all public and school libraries, 98.7 percent provide public access to the Internet.

* There are more public libraries in the United States than there are McDonald's.

* Of all library visitors, 82 percent check out books.

A GEAT PROGRAM

* Reading is Fundamental (RIF) , founded in 1966, is the oldest and largest nonprofit literacy organization in the nation.

* RIF targets under-served children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state, IF provides over four million children with about 15 million books each year.

* Since its founding, RIF has given away 300 million books.

* To understand just what 300 million books might look like, consider this: Stack the books and they would be about as tall as two Empire State Buildings. Spread out flat, the books would cover 2,500 football fields. If emptied of all else, there would not be enough shelving in the Library of Congress to hold the books RIF has given away since 1966.

BOOKS

* Books that were rejected -- a lot -- before they became bestsellers include "Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank and "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrice Potter.

* Books that were "only children" include "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell, "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

* In the English language alone, approximately 360,000 new titles are published each year.

* Agatha Christie is the top-selling English-language author of all time. Her 78 mystery novels have sold an estimated two billion copies -- at last count.

DID YOU KNOW?

* The average child spends 1,460 hours a year watching television and/or DVDs and playing computer games. That is equivalent to watching the film version of "Gone with the Wind" 392 times.

* Emily Dickinson wrote over 1,800 poems. Only seven were published in her lifetime, all without her consent.

* The University of Georgia's campus library ranks as the 44th largest of all public and academic libraries in the country.

* William Shakespeare's annual income as a playwright would be about $8 in today's dollars.

* The Guinness Book of World Records first published in 1955 got into itself 19 years later (1974) by setting a record as the fastest-selling book in the world.

* One out of every eight letters you read is an "e."

* William Shakespeare is credited with inventing/creating the following words: hurry, boredom, disgraceful, hostile, perplex, sneak, obscene and puke.

* If every Bible sold was placed on one long bookshelf, it would take a person driving along the shelf at 55 mph, 40 hours per week, over four months to reach the end.

* It took Noah Webster 36 years to complete his first dictionary.

* The first published book ever written on a typewriter was "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Mark Twain used a Remington in 1875.