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May 25, 2021

Overheard While Preparing Books

Mykenzie Johnson, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in volunteering with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, please visit SCGLR’s events calendar. Upcoming opportunities include May 12, May 17, and May 19.

I’m sure we have all heard the phrase “to be a fly on the wall” before, but just in case not, it’s the unique opportunity to listen in to a conversation unnoticed. Sometimes this happens organically at the grocery store when you subconsciously find yourself eavesdropping on the ladies chit-chatting behind you, waiting in line. Or when you smile as you listen to your child unashamedly singing to themselves while in the next room.

It can be really interesting to hear others’ stories and perspectives. Having worked at the Suncoast Campagin for Grade-Level Reading’s storage unit over these past few weeks, I’ve met several volunteers from various organizations. We’ve had librarians, retirees, young professionals, moms and dads, as well as high school students come to help out. Being on the Engagement Team, I’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet them all and share more about what we do at The Patterson Foundation and specifically with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Our volunteers have been graciously giving their time to help us put labels in the books children will receive from THIS BOOK IS COOL! Our goal of 2,000 participants receiving 20 books each is…well, a lot of books! As one can imagine, this process can be quite meditative. Grab a book, open the cover, carefully peel and place a sticker, close the book, stack it on the pile. Over, and over, and over. Having spent several days at the storage unit now watching, explaining, and completing this process, I wanted to share some anonymous comments and heart-warming observations I’ve seen in hopes that it will inspire and encourage you too to volunteer. I found their sentiments to perfectly capture what THIS BOOK IS COOL! aims to accomplish: support children, increase family engagement, enhance literacy, and foster a love of reading.

  • “Oh, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! We have this one at home. I’m glad they will be reading some of the classics like Because of Winn Dixie and Charlotte’s Web. Those are family favorites.”
  • “I wish I had a book like this growing up. The representation and themes of diversity and inclusion in these give me hope for the future.”
  • “Aren’t our children amazing? If they can spend the summer reading, nothing can stop them.”
  • “I can’t help but think of my kids while labeling these. This will be such a gift to their families. By the end of the program, they’ll each have their own personal library.”
  • “Young students are the best demographic we can invest in.”
  • “These illustrators and artists are so creative! This makes me want to take up painting again.”
  • “Some of these vocabulary words are challenging! Kids will surely learn a lot of new words.”
  • “I remember reading this when I was little!”
  • “I hope whoever receives this really believes it.” (referencing the title I Like Myself)
  • and my personal favorite…Can you imagine how their tiny faces will light up when they open these pages for the first time!”

A task as simple as placing a sticker in a book with #SCGLR #TBIC has undoubtedly touched our volunteers. With their keen attention to detail and generosity for donating their time, we’ll be able to have 40,000+ books ready for these kiddos.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our lovely volunteers! (And for letting me be a sentimental fly on our storage unit wall.)

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