'Reading for Life' founder Michael Verde to speak at Wake Forest

By Pam Barrett
Sept. 30, 2005

Michael Verde, author, teacher, founder and president of Reading for Life, will give two free, public lectures at Wake Forest University Oct. 6.

"It Pays to Read" will be held at 4 p.m. in Tribble Hall, Room C216, and "The Memory Bridge" will be held at 6 p.m. in Kirby Hall, Room B02.

The first lecture, "It Pays to Read," will focus on the creation and purpose of Reading for Life, a literature discussion initiative Verde began in the Chicago area two years ago. Verde's work has expanded from professional group discussions of books to an innovative dinner series benefiting charity. Next month he will begin appearing in "Banking on Books: A Novel Literary Series" sponsored by Northern Trust.

In the second lecture, Verde will discuss the curriculum initiative called The Cicero Memory Bridge Initiative (CMBI). This initiative is part of The Memory Bridge, a foundation that promotes communication with and memory preservation for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Memory Bridge will be the subject of an upcoming documentary currently in production.

The initiative is designed to teach students in grades 7-12 about dementia and how to effectively communicate with people impaired with the disease and to raise positive awareness about what people with dementia do remember. Through the curriculum, students' reading and writing skills are strengthened as they collect and preserve the memories of people with dementia.

Michael Verde is a published author, professional speaker and experienced educator. He currently teaches English and co-directs the Alzheimer's and Multiculturalism Initiative at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill. He was recently in Winston-Salem at the Bookmarks Book Festival, where he gave a lecture on "Living Deeply in a Flat World," which is also the title of his current book project.

He holds a master's degree in literary studies from the University of Iowa and a master's degree in theology from the University of Durham in England. In 1997, he was named Lamar University's Teacher of the Year.

He is the author of the short story "Weasel Loves" published in "Texas Short Stories." The story was recognized as one of the best in the collection by the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning Herald and the San Antonio Times.

Verde's writing career began in 1985, when he won first prize in Guideposts magazine's National Youth Writing Contest with a story about his grandfather, who at that time had not been diagnosed with Alzhiemer's.

Both lectures are sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts. "It Pays to Read" is also sponsored by the English department, "The Memory Bridge" is co-sponsored by the education department.

For more information, call 336-758-3153.

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