Swan’s Island Elementary School students shared in a special field trip to Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse on Swan’s Island with Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator Sophie Blackall during an Island Readers & Writers (IRW) program around her picture book, “Hello Lighthouse.” IRW was named a 2020 Library of Congress Best Practices Honoree for its literacy work in support of Maine children. PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLAND READERS & WRITERS

IRW receives Library of Congress honor 



SOUTHWEST HARBOR – Island Readers & Writers (IRW) is one of 15 literacy organizations globally to be named a 2020 Library of Congress Best Practices Honoree. 

The honor recognizes IRW’s achievement in the promotion of literacy and in the development of innovative methods and effective practices in the field. 

IRW is a nonprofit organization based in Southwest Harbor that brings book-centered programs to Maine children attending schools in remote and predominately underserved communities in Washington County, the outer islands and Mount Desert Island.  

“IRW is thrilled and honored to receive this recognition from the world’s largest library and the country’s oldest federal cultural institution,” said IRW Executive Director Jan Coates. “For the past 14 years, IRW has sought to bring engaging, book-centered experiences to children living in remote and underserved places on the outer islands and in Washington County. The Library of Congress prize is a testament to the innovation and quality of our programs, and to the schools and communities we are so fortunate to work with.” 

The $5,000 Best Practices prize is among four Library of Congress literacy awards that benefit nonprofit organizations internationally, funded by philanthropist David M. Rubenstein. IRW is invited to participate in a Best Practices conference with the honorees, whose inspiring work in the field of literacy touches many corners of the globe. 

The awards also encourage the continuing development of innovative methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading. 

Since 2013, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has awarded $1.9 million in prizes to 120 institutions in 35 countries.  

By recognizing current achievements, the awards seek to enable any nonprofit organization or program to strengthen its involvement in literacy and reading promotion and to encourage collaboration with like-minded organizations. 

For more, visit islandreadersandwriters.org and read.gov/literacyawards 

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