One for the books: Literacy fund-raiser boasts big names


At Book Bash, the first major fund-raiser for adult literacy programs in Baltimore County, art lovers can gain insight into the world of coffee-table art through the eyes of Arnold Lehman, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Weekend chefs can learn to separate the classic cookbooks from the pretenders with guidance from Anne Grieves, owner of the Take Five cooking school. Bob Benson, nationally renowned orchid grower and director of community arts development at the Maryland State Arts Council, will cut a path through the profusion of gardening books.

These volunteers are among the local leaders and celebrities who will join authors Taylor Branch, Madison Smartt Bell, Elizabeth Spires, Nancy Patz and others at Book Bash: An Evening of Glitterati and Literati scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at Borders Book Shop, 415 York Road in Towson.

All proceeds from the $25 tickets and 21 percent of book sales during the event go entirely to Baltimore County Literacy Works, a nonprofit network of adult literacy programs.

Through its affiliated programs, Literacy Works serves about 7,000 county residents a year, says executive director Sandra Newman. With an annual budget of about $200,000 a year, Literacy Works also runs a learning center in Essex which teaches adults how to use computers as well as to read and places almost 250 volunteers each year.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, Baltimore County ranks second in the state with its percentage of adults over 25 who have not finished ninth grade. And 21 percent of county residents over the age of 18 -- roughly 113,000 -- have not graduated from high school.

Says Ms. Newman, "Literacy isn't just about people reading, it's about functioning in the home and in the workplace."

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