What do two graduate student brothers, a disability rights advocate, and a pair of book characters have in common? They are all featured on a new crop of posters for the 2024 Get Caught Reading program. Now in its 25th year, the literacy initiative is adding more small-town heroes—along with children’s book creators and A-list celebrities—to reflect a well-rounded reading community.
With up to 50 new posters rolling out this year, Get Caught Reading will carry on the tradition of spotlighting familiar (and not-so-familiar) faces to promote the joy of reading to book lovers of all ages.
Literary Labor of Love
The national campaign, started by the Association of American Publishers in 1999, provides librarians, educators, and booksellers with bulletin board-sized posters of authors, illustrators, athletes, musicians, and illustrated characters pictured with book in hand. “We were thrilled by the genuine enthusiasm over the way the posters were received by the students, and how excited the librarians and teachers were to participate,” said Becca Worthington, a children’s librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library/ImaginOn, who ran the AAP campaign from 2010–2015.
When Get Caught Reading was relaunched in 2018 by Every Child a Reader, it was converted into a year-round program, so as not to conflict with Children’s Book Week in May. “We had such a great platform to build on from AAP’s wonderful work,” said Carl Lennertz, executive director of the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez appeared on that year’s poster, with a record number of 10,000 copies distributed nationwide.
In addition to the established roster of high-profile names, Lennertz saw the value of including debut authors, teachers, librarians, and community leaders. In 2021, Get Caught Reading posters highlighted three New York City heads of cultural and social service organizations to showcase their work in the community. Lennertz also tapped into his network at the CBC and connected with children’s book author Raakhee Mirchandani (Super Satya Saves the Day), who was speaking at a local event and later featured on a poster.
Since then, Every Child a Reader has focused on diversifying Get Caught Reading, while inspiring students, educators, booksellers, and librarians to learn more about the poster readers. “The number one goal was to make the range of people featured on the posters represent the full rainbow of the United States, along with an element of surprise,” Lennertz told PW. “Who is that on roller skates? Why is she making a face or eating while reading?” He also wanted to feature as many young people in their late teens and early 20s as possible.
What’s in Store for ‘24
This year’s Get Caught Reading program is already underway, with a mailing of 1,700 requested posters—starring the characters Pizza and Taco from Stephen Shaskan’s graphic novel series—to teachers, librarians, and booksellers. Among the 2024 line-up are Chris Finan, author and former executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship; bookseller Calvin Crosby, whose Salt Lake City shop received a bomb threat during a drag story time; and Malik and Miles George, two brothers at MIT encouraging more Black students to study STEM. “Their only request [was] to be caught reading a comic book in their lab coats at the Jersey Shore,” noted Lennertz of the latter. Also of special note is a soon-to-be-released Get Caught Listening poster, co-promoted during the APA’s June Is National Audiobook Appreciation Month.
The design of the Get Caught Reading posters has evolved over the years; the black camera film-style frame has been replaced with a color border that complements the campaign’s logo created in 2021. And because formal photo shoots of featured readers are no longer necessary, smartphone selfies have simplified the production process. Posters will be released in batches, with six to eight new ones every other month. While Every Child a Reader is requesting $10 per order to cover expenses, the cost is strictly voluntary. “I never want a teacher to pay for something else out of their pockets,” Lennertz said. He expects to reach the milestone of 100 new posters since Every Child a Reader’s 2018 takeover sometime this summer.
To order the latest 2024 Get Caught Reading posters, click here.