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STEM and Art Themes Central in New Early-Literacy Campaign

Promoting the learning of science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM subjects—to help students develop the skills needed for the modern workforce is a hot topic among educators.

Now Reading is Fundamental is getting in on the action with a new early-literacy campaign that officials say is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators by combining the arts with STEM learning. The clever acronym for this? STEAM.

Reading Is Fundamental, a national non-profit organization which delivers free books to kids and families in under-served communities, kicked off a multi-year campaign Wednesday with the release of a collection of 40 multicultural children's books and related activities with themes that integrate the arts and STEM subjects, according to a press release. More than 600 of the book collections assembled for the 2012-13 school year will be distributed to RIF programs across the country.

Free downloadable activities, based on the Common Core Standards, that can help parents and teachers engage kids are also available. Selected by RIF staff, educators and book experts, the collection offers books on themes ranging from nature to math to science.

Some of the titles include "City Dog, Country Frog," by Mo Willems, and "What Color is My World?" a book about African-American inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the retired basketball star.

RIF officials said that schools need to begin fostering the creativity and skills that can lead to great innovation by tapping into children's natural curiosity as early as possible.

"This initiative is about inspiring the innovators of tomorrow early with engaging books and resources that connect the dots between science, technology and the arts from broad-ranging cultural perspectives," RIF President and CEO Carol H. Rasco said in the release. "From DaVinci to Madame C.J. Walker to Steve Jobs, our greatest innovators are those who are as creative as they are precise, as imaginative as they are methodical. STEAM-based learning aims to nurture every facet of innovation."

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