First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
First Lady Jane Beshear announces first annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration, issues Reading List

Press Release Date:  Monday, February 28, 2011  
Contact Information:  Elizabeth Roach

FRANKFORT, Ky. – First Lady Jane Beshear today announced that the Commonwealth will have its first annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration from February 28 through March 4. In coordination with the weeklong event, Mrs. Beshear issued a special reading list as part of her ongoing “First Lady’s Reading Recommendations” initiative.

“I am thrilled to kick off the first annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration and look forward to promoting reading across the Commonwealth during this week and throughout the year,” said Mrs. Beshear. “To encourage Kentuckians to use their local public libraries, I have compiled a special reading list to provide some ideas for both new and experienced armchair adventurers. In the continued spirit of reading for all, this list contains books suitable for a range of ages, from infant to adult. Everyone should set aside some time to read this week, whether it is on your own, or with family and friends.” 

Most of these books can be found on the Lexile Framework for Reading (, which is a measure that provides information about reading materials’ suitability for student reading levels. The tool can help students find books in public libraries that match their age and ability.

2011 Literacy Week Reading List

  1. Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories, Gurney Norman (Ages: 12 and up)
    This book of short stories recounts the adventures of Wilgus, a Kentucky boy growing up in Appalachia, and his family.
  2. The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams (Ages: 4 and up)
    In this timeless story, a stuffed rabbit yearns to be made real by the love of a young child.
  3. The Book Thief, Mark Zusak (Ages: 12 and up)
    A winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, this novel set during World War II tells the story of a foster girl who loves  
    books and discovers their power in a time of strife.
  4. Life of Pi, Yann Martel (Ages: 15 and up)
    As a boy raised around zoo animals, Pi is better prepared than most when he becomes stranded on a lifeboat with four wild creatures. Pi’s ensuing ingenuity and epiphanies make for a compelling journey.
  5. The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle (Ages: 1-3)
    A colorful picture book depicting a variety of animals reveals the mystery of the very busy spider.
  6. The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Paul Galdone (Ages 5-8)
    In this classic tale that I used to read to my boys, three billy goats try to cross a bridge, but must first get past a grouchy, scary troll.
  7. A Penny’s Worth of Character, Jesse Stuart (Ages: 8-11)
    A boy in a rural Kentucky community learns about how to put integrity before guilty pleasures.   
  8. Our Brothers’ War, Maureen Morehead and Pat Carr (All ages)
    Co-authored by Kentucky’s current poet laureate Maureen Morehead, this book of poems and short stories portrays the perspective of women in the Commonwealth during the Civil War. 
  9. A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines (Ages: 15 and up)
    This award-winning book depicts a friendship in 1940’s Louisiana between two African-American men, one an innocent prisoner on death row and one a teacher. Both find a way to transcend the trials of racism and injustice.
  10. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart (Ages: 8-12)
    The first book in a delightful series, this story follows four kids who answer an ad in the paper calling for gifted children and find themselves on a secret mission. 

Mrs. Beshear introduced the Reading Recommendations program in the summer of 2009 and has since issued reading lists throughout the year. 

“Literacy is critical to many aspects of daily living, including employment and educational opportunities,” Mrs. Beshear said. “Working as a community, we can foster greater levels of literacy across Kentucky.” 

As part of the Literacy Celebration, Mrs. Beshear will visit local libraries, schools and education centers around the state. For more information about the Kentucky Literacy Celebration, please visit