1997 Helping Children Learn
- The first semi-jumbo self-adhesive US postage stamp
- Issued for the 100th anniversary of the National Congress of Parent and Teacher Associations (PTA)
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Value: 32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue: February 18, 1997
First Day City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 122,000,000
Printed by: Avery Dennison Security Printing Division, Clinton, South Carolina
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Pane of 20 (Vertical 5 across, 4 down)
Perforations: 11.6 x 11.7 (Die-cut simulated perforations)
Tagging: Phosphored paper
Why the stamp was issued: For the 100th anniversary of the National Congress of Parent and Teacher Associations.
About the stamp design: Designed by Caldecott medal-winning children’s author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg of Providence, Rhode Island (he authored famous books Jumanji (1981) and Polar Express (1985)). Van Allsburg tried a number of poses for the adult and child on the stamp, finally setting on the two sitting in an armchair to express the close relationship between parent and child. The design was created using cut-paper techniques the artist said “tries to present the information or communicate the idea through really simple, bold graphic shapes, rather than the kind of fussy and detail-laden images that I might make for a book illustration.” The words “HELPING CHILDREN LEARN” were added after the fact in dropout white capitals.
Special design details: [Tiny design details customer might miss if they don’t know about them, any special marks, changes from previous stamps with same design, mistakes/errors, etc.]
First Day City: Issued in Washington, DC, at the National Postal Museum. Attendees included Joan Dykstra, president of the National PTA, and Robert Chase, president of the National Education Association.
President Clinton reaction: “This new postage stamp depicts a parent and child reading together, a simple image that holds profound importance for the future of America.”
“To achieve our full potential as a nation, we must ensure that every one of our citizens – adults as well as children – can read. In a world without literacy, history books and job manuals stay closed, the Internet is shut down, and the opportunities of tomorrow never come. We cannot let this happen to ourselves or to our children.”
“Our country has outstanding educators on the front lines of the literacy crusade, but the rest of us have a responsibility to support them, to work with them to make sure that every child and every adult can read. The [PTA]… is an enduring example of this effective partnership in action. And the Helping Children Learn stamp reminds us that we have a powerful tool at hand: reading to our children every day.”
“Together, we can create a future in which all citizens can share in the promise of tomorrow and claim their birthright to the American Dream. Together, we can give the precious gift of literacy to a new generation of Americans as they enter a new century of progress.”
History the stamp represents: The Parent Teachers Association was founded over 100 years ago during the Industrial Revolution. Knowledge was rapidly expanding and it was felt children learned best when parents and teachers worked together.
The years that followed saw the electronic, atomic, and space ages – all of which brought about rapid social and technological changes. As knowledge continued to grow, learning became more formalized. More time was devoted to things of the mind, and less time was spent teaching social skills and developing the spirit. Once an activity of both the home and community, learning became divorced from everyday life.
The consequences were alarming. Test scores steadily declined and it became apparent that many American children weren’t effectively learning the skills necessary to sustain their society. In present times, it’s clear that learning must continue throughout life if everyone is to participate fully in our society.
We now realize that learning must begin at home. Reading – the basic building block of learning – has become a national priority, and parents are encouraged to participate in their children’s education by taking time to read aloud to them. This stamp however, reminds us all to invest time in our future’s best resource – our children.