Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reader To Reader Donates 15,000 Children's Books to Springfield

Schools share donated books

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Springfield Republican

CHICOPEE - Schools in four Western Massachusetts cities received an unexpected gift when a nonprofit organization delivered 15,000 books to Patrick E. Bowe School.

Reader To Reader, Inc. delivered seven different titles geared to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders on Thursday. Schools in Springfield, West Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee were invited to take what they want, said David S. Mazor, executive director.

"I love this, I would take all of these books home. I like chapter books, the longer ones and I like adventure books," said Grant C. Herman, 10, a Bowe School fourth-grader.

Looking through the titles, Isabel H. Lopez, 10, already picked out "The Vanishing Point" by Susan Bonners.

"It has big words and vanishing means disappearing," she said, adding she likes mysteries.

The books were donated to Reader To Reader Inc. by publisher Farrar, Strauss and Giroux and First Book. Program sponsors Bank of America, Comcast and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation also assisted, Mazor said.

The agency has been collecting and donating books to schools nationwide for five years. It has given 60,000 books to Greater Springfield schools, he said.

The books may be used to enhance school libraries and many will be given to students. Studies show 60 percent of low-income children do not own books, and Mazor said his organization wants to change that.

"We figure now is a great time to get books in their hands, it is important for kids to read over the summer, kids slip back if they don't," he said.

When Reader to Reader secured the books, it asked Bowe School to store them because it does not have room in its Amherst College office, Mazor said.

Educators were happy to do that and plan to allow children to keep a book, Bowe Vice Principal Linda C. Balakier said.

"This is so great, we are always in need of new books," she said.

One benefit is the books are newer ones teachers do not have, she said.

"Even with my closet of books, I've never seen so many books," said Danielle A. Pinette, 10, a Bowe fourth-grader.

She and her classmates agreed they are excited about picking out a book.

Jacob M. Edelen, 10, a fourth-grader, sai0d he would like to read all seven. "Whenever we get a chance we are basically reading a book."

Before her students go home every summer, Vivian Aickelin, a fourth-grade Bowe teacher said she gives each a book from her classroom library. The donation will help that.

While children do use the library, getting a gift of a book tends to get children more excited about reading, she said.

"To get a free book, it will make them more interested," she said. "Everyone can use a good book."

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