Gift of Literacy Event Returns to LTCC's Campus

April 17, 2019

Lake Tahoe Community College is again partnering with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District (LTUSD) to encourage local childhood literacy and a lifelong passion for books. The Gift of Literacy program returns for a second year to LTCC’s campus on April 26, with special guest and internationally known illustrator and artist Rafael López. This year, the Gift of Literacy program will provide a brand-new, hardcover book to all 280 students in first-grade classes in LTUSD and at Zephyr Cove Elementary, with the hopes of sparking a lifelong love of reading in Tahoe’s youth.

The number of children receiving a free book is doubling this year thanks to generous donations from Soroptimist International and others made in the memory of retired teacher John Nemes. With the extra funding, LTCC and LTUSD are able to donate complete sets of the eight books selected for this year’s program to the public, allowing many more residents to read and enjoy these books along with local first graders. Books will be donated to each of the four LTUSD elementary schools, to Zephyr Cove Elementary, the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library, LTCC’s Roberta Mason Library, and to LTCC programs including the Child Development Center and Tahoe Parents Nursery School.

“This is a truly worthy program that naturally inspires a love for great stories and books,” said LTCC Superintendent/President Jeff DeFranco. “It’s all part of a fun day where our kids get introduced to the college, and hopefully gets them thinking about it as a fun place to learn, where they belong.”

The Gift of Literacy event starts with a kickoff in LTCC’s Gymnasium, with a welcome from DeFranco and a presentation from López, who developed a love for murals by artist Diego Rivera and others during his childhood in Mexico City. He eventually became a founder of the Urban Art Trail movement in San Diego’s East Village, creating a series of large-scale murals that brought the community together. López’s murals can be found in urban areas, at children’s hospitals, public schools, under freeways, and at farmer’s markets around the country.

As a children’s book illustrator, López was awarded the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York Original Art show for his work on Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. He also won the 2016 Pura Belpré Medal from the American Library Association for his illustrations for Drum Dream Girl, and in 2010 for Book Fiesta.

López has illustrated seven United States postal stamps, including for the popular Latin Music Legend Series. In 2008 and 2012, he created official campaign posters for the Obama/Biden campaign to help win the Latino vote. López lives and works in an industrial loft in downtown San Diego and at his home/studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

After meeting with López and receiving their free books and bookbag, students will next join small group reading sessions led by community leaders. They’ll then be taken on a campus tour to explore the college’s science labs, Haldan Art Gallery, and the Roberta Mason Library, among other stops.

For more information about the April 26 Gift of Literacy event or to volunteer as a small group reader, please contact LTCC’s Superintendent/President’s Office at (530) 541-4660 ext. 210.