PHILADELPHIA READS is pleased to announce the start of the 12th year of our nationally recognized Summer READS program. This six-week program, inserted into pre-existing summer camps, seamlessly integrates reading, science, writing, art, music and civics around a single theme. The 2010 theme will be "Growing Peaceful Communities: It Starts with Me." PHILADELPHIA READS will offer the Summer READS program at 24 sites throughout the city. Applications are currently being accepted for potential 2010 Summer READS sites.
To request an application or for more information, contact Lindsey Vance at 215-851-1754.
Mayor Marks Read Across America Day
PHILADELPHIA READS is proud to host Philadelphia's annual observance of Read Across America Day. The nationwide event celebrates the March 2 birthday and the wonderful legacy of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. In what has become an annual tradition, several hundred business, civic and education leaders visited schools across Philadelphia throughout the first week of week of March 2010 to read Seuss books to youngsters and talk about the importance of reading in their own lives.
Philadelphia's centerpiece celebration, held March 2 at the Taggart Elementary School in South Philadelphia, featured a special visit by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other dignitaries. As the cameras rolled, the mayor merrily donned a Dr. Seuss stovepipe hat and read year's featured Seuss book, 'The Sneetches,' to 50 wiggly, giggly first-graders, most of them in pajamas for the party. "Reading is so, so important," he told the youngsters. "Wherever you go and whatever you do, keep reading!"
The event also marked the grand reopening of the Taggart School library, highlighted by a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by the mayor. To add to the festivities, PHILADELPHIA READS Executive Director Adrienne Jacoby officially donated 250 new books to Taggart School, one for each pupil in grades K-4.When Mayor Nutter departed the Taggart library, he was met by 40 second-graders lined up in the hallway, all wearing paper hats depicting the Seuss character Horton. They burst into song - "12 Rules From Horton," to the tune of "12 Days of Christmas" - "On the first day at Taggart, Horton said to me, "be respectful, - all the way to "On the twelfth day at Taggart, Horton said to me, 'be a problem-solver.' By the end, a beaming Mayor Nutter was singing along, too.
Meanwhile, across the city, schools were holding a variety of Dr. Seuss activities and hosting members of City Council, legislators and other civic leaders as guest readers throughout the week. For instance, one school had its pupils make Seuss hats, a second held a Seuss parade, and the principal at a third dressed in a Cat in the Hat costume. The fun was mixed with lessons on group identity and self-esteem -- the probing themes of 'The Sneetches.' Mayor Nutter remarked on those themes during his reading at Taggart. "It doesn't matter what you look like or what you wear," he told the children. "We treat everyone nice, don't we"?
- Martin Luther King Day of Service
Over the past 15 years, more than 500,000 people of all ages and backgrounds have celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday by volunteering in the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. As one of the event?s featured organizations, PHILADELPHIA READS partners with many organizations and individuals to showcase projects supporting children's literacy.
On Jan. 18, 2010, at the MLK Day's central site of Girard College, we worked with about 50 volunteers on three simultaneous activities. One group busily sorted about 4,000 donated books for our Children's Book Bank. Another recorded some 90 books on tape, while a third received training for our important Reading Coach program. At the same time, 20 other volunteers were at our book bank, sorting thousands of other donated books destined for children's classrooms.
Meanwhile that day, eight schools and synagogues across the area were holding their own book-sorting and book-taping operations to benefit PHILADELPHIA READS. A number of these sites had served a public drop-off points for book drives - along with 18 local bank offices and coffeehouses?leading up to MLK Day. As a result of these community efforts, and six other large December holiday book drives, we collected more than 20,000 fresh books and several hundred tapes for our Children's Book Bank. This ensures a robust future for our efforts to serve underserved schoolchildren.
- Citywide Reading Olympics
This May teams from all over the city will come together for the Philadelphia Reading Olympics. This event encourages students to share an enthusiasm for reading, to collaborate through teamwork, and to engage in a citywide competition.During the fall and winter teams of six to twelve students from grades four through eight collectively read the books on the Philadelphia Reading Olympics booklist. The teams come together in May at an assigned college campus location to answer questions about the books. The teams accumulate points for every correct answer during three rounds of competition earning each team member a blue, red, or green ribbon based on the number of points their team has earned. Volunteers from area businesses join with members of the community to ask questions and keep score.
The Philadelphia Reading Olympics is open to students from Philadelphia's public, parochial, charter, independent and after school programs. The Olympics is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, The City of Philadelphia, The Free Library of Philadelphia, PHILADELPHIA READS and the School District of Philadelphia. Without a doubt, this event excites children about reading and brings children, teachers, and families together to celebrate literacy.
To learn more about this exciting event, visit: www.philadelphiareadingolympics.org
- The PHILADELPHIA READS Book Bank CHILDREN'S BOOK BANK: INVALUABLE AND BUSY: One of our major ongoing operations is the Children's Book Bank, which is providing hundreds of thousands of high-quality, donated books to teachers in Philadelphia schools, daycare centers and other community partners, free of charge. The Book Bank, located at Martin Luther King High School, is open every Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:30pm. Teachers and program administrators with school or program identification can come as often and take as many books as they need. Because so many under-resourced teachers and their pupils are starved for independent-reading books, the book bank was created to help strengthen their classroom libraries - and thus enhance the children's literacy skills. Empirical data is demonstrating what a tangible difference the Book Bank has made.
Researchers at the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition have issued a report evaluating information collected from the 520 educators - from 304 schools and learning centers across the city - who utilized the Book Bank during the 2008-2009 school year.
Among the heartening findings:
The teachers said their classroom libraries grew from an average of 141 books to 228 books by the end of the year. The portion of those books that they rated 'excellent' or 'good' quality rose from 35% to 97% over that time.
Three-quarters of the teachers reported that their students spent more time reading independently after receiving the Book Bank books.
The percentage of their students reading at or above grade level rose from 38% to 53%.
The teachers reported spending far less of their own money to stock their classroom libraries - a savings that topped $100 for many.
Before going to the Book Bank, 'stated one teacher', my class library was small and shabby. After my first trip, my students were so excited they fought over who got which book.
The Book Bank stays healthy through the proceeds of book drives held over the years by hundreds of public-minded businesses, schools, churches, businesses, civic groups and individuals.