"When a kid asks for a book he really wants to read and we have to turn him away, I get a little sad," says Kevin Daly, who is a volunteer librarian at his son's school. "Older books get out of date or 'loved to death,' and we always need to replenish what we have—the more books, the merrier."
So, Daly, whose son attends P.S. 163 The Alfred E. Smith School on Manhattan's Upper West Side, is doing something about stocking the library’s shelves: voting for his son's school in the Books 4 Our School challenge, a campaign that will provide 75-100 new books to 20 public and private elementary and middle schools as well as daycare centers in the New York area and Fairfield County.
"Because of citywide school budget cuts, our school hasn't had a staff librarian for a couple of years. While we work with our principal, and hope and advocate for increased funding from the Department of Ed., we volunteer librarians scramble along with whatever we can get," Daly says. "Any time we can improve our library without further straining our tight finances, we're going to jump at the chance."
And, Daly is not the only one who is stepping up to the challenge. Thousands of parents across New York and Fairfield County have already voted for their child's school since the challenge kicked off late March. From public and private schools in Queens and the Bronx to those in Westchester, Long Island, and Rockland County, the response shows that all types of schools are always in need of new books, including ones that are fortunate to see renovations.
Danielle Montgomery, whose son attends P.S. 38 The Pacific in Brooklyn, says although the school is beginning to fix up the library, new books aren't yet on the horizon, and without new, exciting books, it's difficult to get kids motivated to read. "I want to pass this enthusiasm [for reading] to my son's classmates," says Montgomery, who got her son a library card when he turned 1.
Similarly, Alexandra Gecin signed up her son's school, P.S. 144Q Colonel Jeromus Remsen, because even though the school library was recently renovated, new books were not included. "Reading is important for life. I signed up because it seemed easy enough to do,” Gecin says. “Keeping any school library well-stocked during these days of low school budgets is a challenge in itself, so any help the librarian can get is a major plus for our kids."
To garner more votes, Montgomery mass emailed the school's PTA, staff, and parents, informing them about the challenge and letting them know they can use Facebook to share the link on their statuses. Voters are encouraged to download free flyers from the Books 4 Our School website to rally fellow parents to vote and the website also offers sample copy for parents to paste onto their Facebook statuses or Twitter pages in an effort to create a viral campaign for their school’s library.
The Books 4 Our School challenge to win 75-100 new books is open to all public and private schools in the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk Westchester, Rockland, and Fairfield, CT counties. Votes will be taken through April 30, 2012. There will be 20 winners: 10 schools with the most votes and 10 lucky schools selected at random. The Books 4 Our School challenge is sponsored by the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a 10-year-old nonprofit dedicated to promoting children’s literacy, and NYMetroParents, publisher of eight regional parenting magazines throughout the New York metropolitan area.
To get involved in the challenge, visit books4ourschool.org.