As we walked into the post office loaded with boxes of carefully curated books, I couldn’t contain the giggle that exploded from my lips. Anticipating the joy of a kindergartner finding books, such as Click, Clack, Moo or More-igami, in the mailbox and picturing a third-grader sinking into the corner of the sofa with their very own copy of Because of Winn Dixie, I was magically transported back to my own childhood, where books were my best friends. As a member of the Happy Hollister Book club, each month a book would show up in my mailbox, and I would be lost to my family until I had been immersed in adventure and mystery. Such joy!
With more than a thousand children entering grades PreK–3 registered for THIS BOOK IS COOL!, a program fully funded by The Patterson Foundation as part of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the opportunities for great reading are endless. Imagine the joy of opening a box and having brand new books that you get to keep pour out like precious jewels. Or, going to one of ten pickup locations every two weeks and receiving four brand new books and activity sheets, then watching online webisodes about those same books.
Cooper, an almost six-year-old, was giddy, as his mom reports. “He has requested a reading birthday party for his birthday next month. He is so excited – these books made his day.” And this comment from another mom says, “The book selection is AMAZING!! The program has been wonderful. My girls love the activities and call them their “book crafts.” They are always up and ready to do them after they read.” And yet another relates that her daughter especially likes the emphasis on vocabulary, so she’s reminded to go back and define the words when re-reading the books. It’s helped her to be on the lookout for more unfamiliar words in other books they read. “We are so appreciative of this program, and it has enriched our summer! Thank you!” From a mom who has struggled to get her son to read comes the following, “He loves the program! Reading, drawing, talking about the book, doing the activities, and learning together. During a summer of COVID, this is definitely the bright spot!” And from a mom with a daughter who has severe autism and was nonverbal until a year ago, “Reading has really improved her speech skills and the program has changed her life.”
As all of us who have been on the reading adventure know, reading really can take you places! With many families struggling through a pandemic, unemployment, housing concerns, and more, reading can be a joyful escape to happy places, old and new! And for one kindergartner, this may be a launch for a future author. He is now creating and writing his own stories as a result of learning that books REALLY are cool! Keep on reading!