For Immediate Release                      Contact:   Gail Towns              or           Tara Strickland
                                                                                   732.987.2266                          732.987.2291

Conference to Focus on Creating and Keeping Young Readers

Lakewood, N.J., Oct. 15, 2009—A former teacher and school librarian-turned author will talk about what it takes to get kids reading during the Ocean County Reading Council’s 31st Annual Fall Conference, slated for 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20, in the historic Casino on Georgian Court University’s Lakewood campus.

Creating a love of books among children takes time and effort, says Lisa Mullarkey, a New Jersey native who has found success as a children’s author in recent years. And even in an age where youngsters are tempted remain plugged-in at all times, cultivating young readers is not impossible, she says.

“Screaming headlines have some parents believing that we're raising a nation of illiterates,” says Ms. Mullarkey, who will address the conference theme, “Igniting Interest in Literacy,” during her talk with librarians, professors, classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, and others attending the conference.

The event aligns with the New Jersey Professional Development Content Standard #10 (deepens educators’ subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge). Attendees will receive certificates for two hours of professional development for attending workshops that cover everything from effective teaching strategies and classroom-based assessments to staging story time for children.

Equipping educators and families with the tools they need to empower young readers is more important than ever.

“Despite what alarmists want us to believe, we're actually brighter than past generations,” Ms. Mullarkey adds. “But life is more complicated today. In the olden days, bonding with books was much easier. Books today are competing with cell phones and texting, video games, computers, iPods, and TV 24/7.” 

The former first- and second-grade teacher is also a mom, blogger and busy writer. In 2007 she published Splashing by the Shore, a beach-science book filled with experiments, crafts, recipes, and party ideas. She also has a six-book deal for her “Katharine the (Almost) Great” series, which follows feisty third-grader Katharine Carmichael through adventures at school, at home and in everyday life. The titles are due out in 2010, as are Ms. Mullarkey’s illustrated adaptations of timeless literary characters Tom Sawyer and King Arthur.

In addition, she writes regularly for young fans at her Web site,, and on her blog at

Getting kids to enjoy books means families must make reading a priority, she says. “A daily dose of reading is a must. It needs to be as automatic as brushing our teeth and eating lunch. It must be built into our daily routines.” 

Registration is required for the conference, and costs $45 through Monday, October 19, and $50 at the door. The fee includes a one-year membership in the Ocean County Reading Council. For more information, contact the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263 or

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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