Editorial: Give a kid a book

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Lots of people know that if you give a mouse a cookie — or a moose a muffin, or a cat a cupcake — you’re off on a chain-reaction adventure.

Well, if you give a kid a book, that could be the wonderful start of something, too.

For the 11th straight year, new and used children’s books are being collected at various spots in the city until May 15.

Reading at an early age has countless benefits to young learners.

Wikimedia Commons

Reading at an early age has countless benefits to young learners.

The City that Reads book drive is a chance for area residents to easily make a difference for local children. Books for little kids up to emerging teenagers — pre-kindergarten through 8th grade — are sought. We urge individuals, households and businesses to take part.

School Committee member John Monfredo and his wife, Anne-Marie, have been behind this effort from the start.

Monfredo wrote recently that lower-income students in the Worcester public schools have limited access to books, and it’s a major factor in the stubborn gap in reading achievement when test scores of students from different backgrounds are compared.

The summer break is to blame for a large part of the gap, Monfredo says. It’s called the “summer slide,” when students who are away from school and without much access to reading materials fall further behind their peers.

Authorities in education and public policy have years of statistics and studies pointing to the importance of early literacy for success in school and in life. In Worcester, various worthy programs and efforts come and go to address reading readiness and promote reading proficiency for struggling students, English language learners and pupils from less-privileged homes.

At the heart of it all is something very simple: the need to read. And even more basic than that, of course, is the need to have something to read.

“Our goal is to put books into the hands of children who lack books in their homes, and to promote the importance of being a lifetime reader,” Monfredo wrote.

From all the noise of the world, reading comes to the rescue. We adults know this from experience. Books erase boredom, satisfy curiosity and quietly reassure on a deep level that people of all ages, and from all places and times, face similar situations and feelings.

Reading also subtly teaches about punctuation, grammar and structure, helping people build their own writing and creative-thinking skills. There’s really no lack of reasons to praise and promote maximum comfort with reading in our children.

Opening a book is always an act of hope. Giving one is, too.

The “Spring Into Books” book drive conducted by the Worcester: The City that Reads Committee last year collected 35,000 books that were distributed not only to individual pupils, but to various programs, libraries and agencies that get books into the hands and laps of young people throughout the city. And while the emphasis is on summer, books also are distributed during the school year for various reasons and projects.

This year, books will be distributed in the schools during the week of June 12, part of The City that Read’s “Worcester: Reading In Our City” week.

Numerous businesses and organizations are conducting their own book drives on behalf of this effort. Books may be donated, in new or gently used condition, suitable for children up to Grade 8, at the following locations:

  •    Annie’s Book Stop on James Street
  •    Austin Liquors at Gold Star Boulevard
  •    Bagel Inn on Main Street in Holden
  •    Bank of America (Tatnuck Square)
  •    Bay State Savings Bank (all branches in Worcester)
  •    Commerce Bank (All Worcester branches, and also at 1057 Main St., Holden)
  •    Congressman James McGovern’s office at 12 East Worcester St.
  •    EcoTarium on Harrington Way
  •    Jewish Community Center on Salisbury Street
  •    Leaders Way Kung Fu Academy on Burncoat Street
  •    Panera Bread on West Boylston Street
  •    People’s United Bank (all branches in Worcester)
  •    RSVP and the Senior Center on Vernon Street
  •    Saint Vincent Hospital at the entrance door on Summer Street
  •    Shaw’s Market on West Boylston Street
  •    Starbucks on West Boylston Street
  •    Stop & Shop on Grafton, Lincoln and West Boylston streets
  •    Summit ElderCare on Grafton Street
  •    TD Bank, West Boylston Street
  •    UMass Memorial Medical Center Memorial Campus on Belmont Street
  •    UMass Memorial Medical Center on Plantation Street
  •    Worcester City Hall, first-floor information booth and city manager’s office
  •    Worcester Credit Union on West Boylston Street
  •    Worcester Public Library
  •    Worcester Public Schools’ School Committee Office at 20 Irving St.
  •    YMCA Greendale and Central Community branches

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