Helping young readers one book at a time

In one year, 25,000 books are collected. This is an intimidating but attainable number, at least according to the folks at Madison Reading Project, a literacy-based nonprofit organization that provides books to children in-need in South Central Wisconsin.

In 2016 MRP gave out over 10,000 books to local kids. This year they hope to double that number. The goal is 25,000.

Local children need books, said executive director, Rowan Childs, and not just any books but books that interest them. According to the organization’s website, two out of every three kids living in poverty do not have books at home.

“We want kids to have the opportunity to read at home, at the community center, school, shelter, with a parent, sibling, or social worker. Kids’ literacy rates increase with owning books in the home, reading, looking at pictures, and engaging in a book with a parent,” Childs said.

According to Childs, donations have been off to a good start.

“Over 14,000 books have come into our center [so far] with us purchasing 2,500 high need books,” Childs said. That means 9,000 books are still needed to reach the 25,000-book goal.

High need books are books printed in Spanish, bilingual books and every level of chapter book. Childs added that updates of high need book categories are sent via newsletters and social media. The high need list can also be found on the organization’s website.

This is the MRP’s second year running the summer book drive, and the third year of running the organization as a whole.

“As word gets out and we strengthen our programs we are giving more and more books. We are still in need of thousands of books to give for summer and the end of the year,” Childs said.

Madison Reading Project hosts multiple story time events over the course of the summer. The organization partners with the Downtown Business Improvement District, Read Up, the Madison Police Department and various summer camps and community centers to ensure the story times are interactive and interesting for the kids.

Carrie Castree, outreach director at MRP, said story time is important for children to attend over the summer.

“By providing quality story times MRP is reinforcing what is already being taught in school and at local libraries by bringing the story times to both traditional and nontraditional settings. [It reaches] families that may not otherwise attend similar opportunities in their area. Plus, kids get to take quality books home that they can keep and enjoy over and over,” Castree said.

All downtown events are open to the public and held every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until the end of August.


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