On May 18th the New York Juvenile Justice Corps put on the second annual “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” summer reading kick-off event with the Red Hook branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Under the hot Friday afternoon sun, Corps members gave away thousands of donated books to local children and teens. More than 500 kids, parents and grandparents spent hours browsing through the book selection and left with arms, bags and strollers full of new books for summer. Corps members greeted kids asking about their reading-level and favorite books to help direct them to books they would most enjoy. Corps members also led arts and crafts where kids designed bookmarks and drew illustrations from their favorite stories. Many children left the book fair to wander through the library - happily realizing free books are actually at their fingertips 365 days a year!
The event is an effort to encourage a love of reading and increase access to age-appropriate books to prevent the phenomenon of the “summer slide.” The “summer slide” happens when students go all summer without opening a book and fall behind in school, forcing teachers to spend up to three months reviewing lessons from the previous grade-level, causing students to fall even further behind. Research shows that students who read just 4 books during the summer score better on reading tests in the fall than their peers who read one or fewer books.
Corps members told the kids that although the last day of school is right around the corner, summer break does not have to mean a break from reading. It was inspiring to see children and their families get so excited about books and spend the afternoon reading in the sunshine, momentarily forgetting about their Xbox 360's and TV's back at home.
Books were generously donated by Tymberly Harris of Packer Collegiate Academy, Cynthia Sichenze of the Legal Aid Society, Dianne Graham of the Office of Children and Family Services, Sandra Sutton and Donna Longobardi of the Red Hook Public Library, Toni Bullock-Stallings and other Red Hook Community Justice Center staff. Thank you to Ronell Jack and Nelson Rivera and the Red Hook community service crews for their assistance moving the books, to Nate’s Pharmacy for donating hundreds of bags, to P.S. 15, PAVE Academy and Good Shepherd Services for spreading the word about the event, and to the dedicated members of the Juvenile Justice Corps for making the event possible.
Children filled their backpacks and bags with books for summer.
Good Shepherd Services brought over 100 children from their after-school program.
Corps Member Lameeka Collins leads children in arts and crafts.
The book fair included books ranging from picture books to chapter books and everything in between!
Donna Longobardi of the BPL helped children decorate fun animal-shaped bookmarks.
Corps Members recommended favorite books from their junior high days.
This event was made possible from the support of our wonderful Red Hook Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library!
Blue and yellow balloons (the colors of the JJC) attracted many children on their way home from school at P.S.15.
Many young ballplayers from the Justice Center-run Red Hook Youth Baseball League came by before practice.