When President Bush unveiled his proposed budget for 2009, one of the first things that jumped out at book lovers was the elimination of funding for the Inexpensive Book Distribution program at <a href="http://www.rif.org/"Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). According to Carol Rasco, the nonprofit’s CEO and president, “Unless Congress reinstates $25.5 million in funding for this program, RIF would not be able to distribute 16 million books annually to the nation’s youngest and most at-risk children.” The cut would seem particularly misguided given all the hoopla raised throughout 2007 about the importance of getting (and keeping) America’s children passionate about reading. (Hey, isn’t this the sort of thing a national young people’s literature ambassador should be up in the president’s face about? That’s a story idea; remind me to make a phone call this afternoon…)
Publishing industry professionals are urged to get involved in the effort to save the program. “RIF turned me into the book-loving person I am today,” writes DK associate publicity director Rachel Kempster. “Without RIF, all of us publishing folks would have even less readers to worry about.” In addition to encouraging all her friends to call Congress and press for restoration of the funding, Kempster has created a “Save RIF” page on Facebook, where people can pool their resources.