The Library of Congress is not up to monkey business with its new public service campaign, although a certain simian has been spotted. The institution, in partnership with the Ad Council, has chosen Curious George, the children’s book character, to star in a series of ads aimed at inspiring children to become lifelong learners and encouraging parents to read with their children.
Introduced on Aug 2, the PSAs’ goal is to target children and their parents in an effort to engage them in all forms of literacy, whether it is reading a book or magazine, studying history, visiting a museum or simply using their imaginations.
According to the National Institute for Literacy, success in school – and life – starts with literacy. When children become good readers in the early grades, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond. However, results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test found that 37 percent of American fourth-graders read below the “basic” level. Another study conducted by the Center for Evaluation, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, concluded that reading four or five books during the summer can prevent reading-achievement losses among elementary school students that might normally occur then.
The television, radio, online and outdoor spots, which also feature “The Man in The Yellow Hat,” were developed in collaboration with the Ad Council and Universal Partnerships & Licensing and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The iconic monkey’s story, by Margret and H. A. Rey, was first published in 1941 by Houghton Mifflin.
In one print ad, George and the man sit on the floor; the man looks over George’s shoulder while George pores over a pile of books. “What makes a curious reader? You do,” and suggests, “Read to your child today and inspire a lifelong love of reading.”
An outdoor ad features George sitting on the man’s lap, in a big armchair, sharing a book; the former has removed his hat and slung it on the chair’s back. “Share curiosity. Read together.”
Billington admitted to being a fan of Curious George, having read the stories to his four children and 13 grandchildren, and found “it is one of the most effective stories, the idea of a little character who’s curious.”
Additionally, a series of radio spots were created pro bono by BYU Ad Lab. Per the Ad Council model, the announcements have been distributed to media outlets nationwide and will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.
The Library and the Ad Council have been partners in raising awareness for literacy since 2000, with the launch of the America’s Library website and a series of PSAs promoting historical knowledge.
More recent campaigns have centered around the literacy promotion website Read.gov and used fictional characters from the films “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’” to promote literacy in all forms. The ads may be seen at Read.gov/ads/.