Philadelphia READS! Community Night at Penn Museum April 10

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Media Contact:Pam Kosty | pkosty@upenn.edu | 215-898-4045March 19, 2013

It's a groundswell and it's building momentum—Philadelphia's cultural community is putting the spotlight on reading, literacy, and community engagement. Reading opens up worlds of opportunity—and books, like the many cultural treasures in the city, bring so many worlds vividly to life.

Penn Museum, in cooperation with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's GroundSwell initiative, opens its doors Wednesday, April 10, 5 to 8 pm, for a free Philadelphia READS! Community Night and the official kickoff of a month-long children's book drive to benefit the teachers, the children, and ultimately, the community, of Philadelphia.

The free event is an invitation for people young and old to explore the world through the Penn Museum's many-cultured galleries—filled on this evening with a host of special activities and a literary twist. Guests are welcome to bring a gently used or a new children's book—suitable for pre-kindergarten through elementary school—to contribute to Philadelphia READS, a program that provides books and literacy resources to educators in the City of Philadelphia.

A Night to Celebrate Reading

Penn Museum curators, collections keepers, and graduate students join in the celebration with gallery storytelling, and hands on activities.

The Museum has the world's largest collection of ancient clay cuneiform tablets with Sumerian literature—featuring some of the earliest storytelling in the world. Irene Plantholt, Graduate Student, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, teaches guests how to write in ancient Sumerian on clay tablets, in a "first day of school" workshop at 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00 pm. Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs workshops, where everyone can learn to write his or her own name in hieroglyphs, are offered by Allison Hedges, recent Penn MLA graduate in Ancient Studies, at 6:30 and 7:15 pm.

Guests can enjoy favorite stories from diverse cultures, presented by curators and keepers and staff in the Museum's related galleries: International Classroom Program Manager Prema Deshmukh at 5:00 pm; Egyptian Section Associate Curator Jennifer Wegner at 5:30 pm; Near Eastern Section Assistant Curator Lauren Ristvet at 6:00 pm; Mediterranean Section Associate Curator Ann Brownlee at 6:30 pm; Physical Anthropology Curator Janet Monge at 7:00 pm; and Adrienne Jacoby, Executive Director, Philadelphia READS, at 7:30 pm.

Community presenters and performers join in the evening. Teaching artist, actor, and storyteller Jan Michener of Arts Holding Hands & Hearts leads an interactive program using newspaper headlines to create and perform poetry. Youth poets from ArtWell perform throughout the evening.

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