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Monfredo: Fighting For Literacy In Our Community

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Research continues to emphasize that a major reason for the rich/poor reading achievement gap stems from the limited access to books in low income communities and in schools serving these communities.  What we know is that approximately 80% of the reading achievement gap between children from low and middle income families stems from summer reading loss. It should surprise no one that any proficiency that goes unpracticed for three months deteriorates.  Hence, we have the achievement gap or as many call it the “summer slide.”

It is for this very reason that my wife, Anne-Marie, and I, twelve years ago started Worcester: the City that Reads in an attempt to stop summer loss and promote literacy in the community.  Our goal is to put books into the hands of  children who lack books in their homes, and to promote the importance of being a life time reader. As the former secretary of education Richard Riley stated years ago, “If every child were read to daily, from infancy, it would revolutionize education in this country.” 

 This year’s kick off for the eleventh annual book drive by Worcester: the City that Reads Committee to collect books ( Pre-k to grade  8) for summer reading began on March 21st  with its theme of “ Spring into Books” and will continue until May 15th. In ten years Worcester: the City that Reads  has given out over320,000 books to the children in this community!

Last year was outstanding for we collected over 35,000 children’s books.” Traditionally, the books have been distributed to low-income students, social agencies, and groups with summer school programs.  In addition, books have also been given to schools and groups during the year for special projects such as a start up library at a school ( as they are having this year at Rice Square School), AVID programs, innovation school projects, Special education programs, two-way bilingual schools, and all HEAD START schools.  

Books last year were also given to Plumbley Village,  Rainbow Child Development, the African Education Institute, Worcester Housing, the Y.W.C.A., Y.M.C.A., all private and public pre-school programs, Books for Babies program, as well as  to church groups with summer reading programs, United Way programs and to  many other social agencies.  As we have done in the past after May 15th  the books will be distributed to the schools during “Reading In Our City Week”  initiated by “Worcester: the City that Reads” during the week of June 12th.

The good news is that the drive is off to a great start for the Houghton Mufflin Harcourt publishing company donated over 4500 new books to the drive. In addition we are having more groups and individuals  stepping up to support literacy in our community.  Prior to our kick-off we had Naomi Martin, a student at Forest Grove Middle School collect over nine boxes of books at her bar mitzvahs celebration in the name of literacy to help those children in need. We heard from the Salvation Army wanting to assist in the drive and the Wachusett Regional Recycling Company has contacted us about a donation. People in the community are realizing that this has to be a community effort if we are to make a difference in the lives of our children…there are lots of kindness and giving within the Worcester area.

 According to the research on literacy, studies clearly indicate that children in homes that have books are more likely to succeed in school, while children who don’t have adequate reading skills are much more likely to drop out of school. One study found that the ability to read well is the single best indicator of future economic success – regardless of family background.

In an attempt to continue to spread the importance of literacy in our community, we also would like the schools and the Worcester Public Library to conduct a book swap when they return from their summer break as a way of supporting the importance of reading throughout the year.  We want to keep the books that are donated circulating.      

This year more drop off sites have been added as well as more groups have come forward and are conducting their own book drives for the cause.

Please donate  new or gently used books, Pre-kindergarten to grade 8, at the following sites from now  to May 15th.

•    People’s United People’s Bank ( (all five city branches in Worcester) 
•    Worcester Public Library
•    Commerce Bank (all four city branches) including Holden
•    Bay State Savings Bank (all branches)
•    Bank of America ( at Tatnuck Square)
•    TD Bank  located on West Boylston Street
•    Stop and Shop on Lincoln Street
•    Stop and Shop on Grafton Street
•    Stop and Shop on West Boylston Street
•    Shaws Market on West Boylston Street
•    RSVP and the Senior Center on Vernon Street
•    Worcester Credit Union – on West Boylston Street
•    Starbucks Coffee on one West Boylston Street 
•    Panera’s on West Boylston Street
•    Austin Liquor at Gold Star Blvd
•    Jewish Community Center on Salisbury Street
•    Leader’s Way – Kung Fu Academy on Burncoat Street
•    Greendale YMCA
•    Main Street YMCA
•    Bagel Inn on Main Street in Holden, Ma.
•    St. Vincent’s Hospital at the entrance door on Summer Street 
•    Summit Elder Care on Grafton Street
•    Worcester Public Schools School Committee Office – 20 Irving Street
•    Worcester City Hall at the City Manager’s Office
•    Anne’s Books Shop on James Street in Worcester
•    Congressman James McGovern’s office  - 12 East Worcester Street
•    Eco Tarium in Worcester
•    UMass Memorial Hospital – Belmont Street
•    UMass Medical – Plantation Street


In addition, as of this writing, the following businesses and organizations will be having their own book drive in an attempt to assist the children of Worcester.  We hope more organizations will also join in by calling me at 508 853-3444.


•    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
•    UBS Financial Services

•    Worcester Public School High Schools… Burncoat High, Doherty High, North High, South High,  Claremont Academy, University Park Campus and Worcester Technical High.
•    Wachusett  High School
•    Bancroft School
•    St. Peter-Marion
•    Holy Name High School
•    St. John’s High School
•    Notre Dame Academy
•    Worcester Academy
•    Venerini Academy
•    Boy Scouts
•    Girl Scouts
•    Hanover Insurance
•    Harvard Pilgrim
•    Little leagues of Worcester
•    UNUM insurance
•    Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital
•    Wilson Language Training Center
•    You, Inc.
•    The following colleges and universities: WPI, Holy Cross College, Becker College, Worcester State University, Anna Maria College, Assumption College, and Mass. College of Pharmacy, and  Salter College, and Quinsigamond Community College.
•    AFL/CIO Labor
•    Salvation Army in Worcester
•    Northboro Junior Women’s Club
•     Beth Tikvah and Bnai Shalom in Westborough


 A LISTING OF THESE SITES AND OTHER ADDITIONAL SITES CAN BE ACCESSED BY GOING TO THE FOLLOWING WEBSITES:  http://www.mywpl.org ; OR  www.worcesterschools.org or http://www.worcesterma.gov/announcements/worcester-the-city-that-reads-11th-annual-book-drive-kicks-off-with-goal-of-collecting-35-000-books

For more information, or if other schools or businesses are interested in helping out please call John or Anne-Marie Monfredo at 508 853-3444.  Remember, everyone can help in this most worthwhile community service project and bring the joy of reading to every child.  As the Monfredo’s stated, “ No skill is more crucial to the future of a child or to a community, than literacy.”


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