The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival (CCBF) is teaming up with Barnes & Noble, End Book Deserts and One Book Westchester to bring books to students in pockets of Westchester as part of a campaign called Books in Hand.
CCBF founder Dawn Greenberg said these three initiatives are using their platforms to raise money to create book packs for students.
“We know some kids have no books in their home and we will make sure the kids have books through the end of the school year and into the summer,” Greenberg said. “Normally they would go to the libraries after the school year but now it isn’t looking likely that they will be able to do that.”
The group will start by distributing books to Mount Vernon and White Plains. Books in Hand also hopes to expand their reach to Ossining, Yonkers and Mount Kisco public schools.
CCFB is a volunteer group made up of members of the community that gives both families and kids the opportunity to meet authors and illustrators. On their website, the mission statement below their logo is “putting a book in the hands of every child.” CCFB and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services launched a literacy initiative in January called One Book Westchester. This group’s goal is to hold events around the county and form a county-wide book club.
Also passionate about providing books to students is educator Dr. Molly Ness. She founded “End Book Deserts”, a podcast about the importance of building book oases in high poverty communities. Her main goal is to advocate for the value of books in communities and raise awareness according to her website.
Greenberg said the groups are collaborating by working with teachers and literacy experts to put together a list of books and authors that will appeal to different grade levels. They are also working toward possibly getting Skype visits from authors to some of the kids. Barnes & Noble will then sort the books by grade, Books In Hand will distribute to the district and the district will distribute to the students.
Dr. Gayle White-Wallace is the Director of Pre-Kindergarten and Standards Administrator- ELA/Literacy, Reading and Social Studies at the Mount Vernon City School District. White-Wallace said that when the district receives the books, they will either send them to the student’s homes or offer them for pick up at some of the schools.
The students will then use the books for a number of different activities possibly including making a social media account for a character in a book and posting on their page as if they were the character tagging the school in the posts so administration and teachers can see the work students are doing.
These books will also be used for the Superintendent’s Reading Challenge, a Mount Vernon City School elementary reading initiative that encourages students to read throughout the year. The purpose of the challenge is to instill good reading habits in children and show students how enjoyable reading can be. According to New York State guidelines, students are mandated to read 25 books by the end of the academic year.
The superintendent’s challenge reading goals are as follows:
- Prekindergarten: 15 books read with parent
- Grades K-2: 40 sight word books and/or leveled readers
- Grades 3-6: 30 chapter books
Students are encouraged by their teachers and administration to complete the challenge through the use of after-school book clubs, a book of the month and a bulletin board in class indicating the number of books each student has read.
Upon completing the challenge, students can receive a raffle ticket to win prizes at a celebration where everyone who met the goal can attend.
“The libraries are closed, so the kids are not able to go to the library and there are students who do not have access to technology,” White-Wallace said. “So we want to make sure we can get books in the hands of students that way they have material to read that will support their reading level and fluency.”
All funds raised by the Books in Hand initiative will go toward purchasing books for schools like the Mount Vernon City School District. The group hopes to distribute books to the districts by mid-May. If you have additional questions about the Books in Hand initiative, please write to: Chappbook@yahoo.com