The first annual “Gift of Literacy” community event in West Chester, PA, is bringing together community leaders, authors, illustrators, and educators on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon to encourage children in the region to read and enjoy books. The event, held in the West Chester Borough Building at 401 East Gay Street in West Chester, is using the theme of READ: Reading Enables All Dreams.
“We really hope to encourage literacy and to extend our literacy community to include all children,” says organizer Carol Baker, a Hillsdale Elementary School teacher (West Chester Area School District) who has created a reading incentive website: www.read2dream.com.
The first 450 children who attend the event will receive literacy gift bags geared toward different age groups. ABC Channel 6 News Anchor Matt O’Donnell is expected to be a guest reader from 10 – 10:30 a.m., along with West Chester Mayor Carolyn Committa, West Chester Area School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon, local authors, illustrators, and other community leaders. Henderson High School students and Hillsdale Elementary School parents will be among the volunteers. There will be a book-making station, a holiday card-making station, music, and lots of reading! Attendees can also meet Tuckerpuppy, the real-life puppy mascot of Read2Dream.
“Read2Dream started three years ago but is a spinoff of the book club program I started at Hillsdale nearly 30 years ago,” says Carol. The site offers rewards for children who track their reading. It now reaches more than 100 countries, and Hillsdale Elementary uses the site for its reading challenge.
“Reading is really every child’s ticket to a successful future,” says Carol, who is a past recipient of the region’s prestigious Literacy Heroes Award. “Reading changes lives. You are never truly free until you can read and make your own decisions. Lack of literacy robs people of their futures and dreams. We do a good job of teaching children the skills necessary to read, but many children lack the magic of reading.”