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Monfredo: A Record Breaking Year For Worcester - The City That Reads Book Drive

Sunday, May 22, 2016


A deeply felt thank you Worcester for once again supporting, Worcester: the City that Reads book drive!  This year was the best ever for we collected over 40,000 books! That brings our total of books collected in 11 years to 365,000.  In addition to the citizens of this community we had tremendous support from our private sector on this book drive starting with the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book Company donation of 4,000 books. We had wonderful responses from Bancroft School, Worcester Academy, Venerini Academy, St. John’s High School and Holy Name; all did a wonderful job. Book drives also took place at all of our public high schools as well. On the college level WPI, Mass College of Pharmacy and Becker College led all colleges by collecting a substantial amount of books.

 Various businesses that stepped up were Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital, Hanover Insurance, Bay State Bank, People’s United Bank, Commerce Bank, UNUM, TD Bank, Wilson Language Training Center, Boy Scouts of America, Jewish Community Center, UMass Medical, UMass Memorial,  and Harvard Pilgrim.

We had so many successful sites where the public could drop off their books and  leading the way was the YMCA, St. Vincent Hospital, Shaws, Stop and Shop,  Annie’s Book Shop, Worcester Public Library, Little Leagues in Worcester, Starbucks,  Austin Liquor, Bagel Inn in Holden, Panera, Leader’s Way – Kung Fu Academy and the Worcester Credit Union.  We also had additional assistance this year from the Salvation Army led by Captain Patrick O’Gara and from the AFL-CIO Union. 

The books were stored this year at the Worcester Technical High School garage site.  Senior custodian at the school, Paul Jarvis and his crew, were a tremendous help to us. We thank Worcester Public Schools maintenance crew for picking up over 100 cartons of books at our house, at other sites and delivering them to the Worcester Technical High School garage

We have already spent over 60 hours in sorting out the books to get them ready for distribution and still have more sorting to do. Lending a helping hand in the sorting were students from Doherty High School, Worcester Technical High School, North High, and South High.  In sorting out the books we found 100’s of adult books and they were donated to the Friends of the Worcester Public Library and to the Worcester Adult Center.  

Why have we continued to have this annual book drive? It’s all about enhancing the need to support literacy in our community. We know that children in low-income areas do not have access to books and many live too far away to visit the public library. It has been estimated that children lose between 2 to 3 months of academic growth during the summer time because they are not reading or engaging in meaningful learning activities.

Due to the generosity of many in the community the book drive will enable us to spread the joy of reading this summer for more access to books results in more reading. We all know that students who read more read better. They also write better, spell better and have larger vocabularies.  A report from the National Institute of Education concluded “…the amount of reading done out of school is consistently related to gains in reading achievement.”   

The ability to read well is the single best indicator of future economic success – regardless of family background, and it starts by putting books into the hands of our children. Thus, our next job will to do just that and that is to give all of the children from Pre-K to grade 6 books to take home for summer reading.  Books will also be given to various programs in grade 7 and 8, AVID, ELL programs, Special Education, and others.

The books will be distributed to the children, Pre-k to grade 6, during the week of June 5th as we celebrate “Reading in Our City Week,” a proclamation that will be read by Mayor Petty at the June 2nd School Committee meeting. The distribution of the books will be part of the Worcester Public Schools summer “kick-off” during Reading Week.   It is our hope that the schools move the books around in June and then in September the schools consider having book swap days and to be creative in how the books will be used in the early fall.

We will distribute books at the Count Down to Kindergarten program at the Worcester Ecotarium in August and distribute books for the Convoy to Hope event on June 11th. Other organizations to receive books will be the African Education Center, Rainbow Child Development, Friendly House, Plumbley Village, Head Start sites and other social agencies engaged in summer school. If there are groups in need of books for this summer please contact me!  We would love to also give books to the Worcester Police Department so that during the summer months they can reach out in various areas of our city and give a child a book.

The distribution of books is only a start for more needs to be done if we are to have our children become readers. Parents, you are the key this summer. For most parents, it's a challenge to keep kids reading and writing all summer.  My advice is to pick just one thing a week to kick start your week's literacy adventures but include a wide range of literacy fun for the whole family. Be sure to embrace the theme of having your child read each day for 20 minutes for remember reading time does not take a vacation.

Other ideas include visiting the Public Library and look for the many summer programs available for your child and encouraging your child to keep a simple journal or summer diary. Consider writing to the Worcester Telegram Happy Time Page this summer on their weekly essay and poetry topics.

 I will be writing more ideas on what to do encourage learning in the summer time in the coming weeks but in the meantime… thank you all for the many donations of books. I leave you with this quote,” There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.  Love of books is the best of all.”  –Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis


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