This week, I had the pleasure of attending a My Very Own Library event at the Chancellor Avenue School in Newark, NJ. Chancellor Avenue School is one of the 26 schools participating in the program from Newark, NJ this school year. During the event, I was able to see just how much of a difference this program is making in the lives of children in Newark and the six other locations it serves.
Through this program, Scholastic Book Fairs and My Very Own Library give students most in need the opportunity to select books from their school’s book fair to add to their own personal home libraries for free. The My Very Own Library program is unique because the program doesn’t simply hand out books; rather it allows children to choose the books they want to read from their schools’ book fairs where they can shop among the newest and most popular books. We know that for children choice is key – our Kids & Family Reading Report shows that a majority of kids (89%) agree their favorite books are the ones they have picked out themselves, and 88% say that they are more likely to finish such books.
During the Chancellor Avenue event, students received special guest visits from popular children’s book authors including: Authors Eric Luper (Key Hunters), Gita Varadarajan (Save Me a Seat), Varian Johnson (The Great Green Heist) and Gavin Brown (Josh Baxter Levels Up). Each author shared their personal experiences with reading. While some grew up as reluctant readers, and others were more fond of reading, all admitted that they became avid readers once they discovered what types of books they enjoyed the most.
For me, the most rewarding part of the event was hearing from the students. One student said that MVOL gave her confidence in her reading skills that she didn’t have before, and now she’s on the school’s honor roll! Newark Public Schools Superintendent Cerf told students, “If you read you will succeed… you will be successful in school and successful in life.” Mayor Baraka of the City of Newark stressed the positive impact reading can have on changing our world, sharing with students that “reading is absolutely, positively, the most important thing that you’ll ever be able to do.”
In addition to Newark, the My Very Own Library program also serves children in Chicago, IL, Wilmington, DE, Milwaukee, WI, Richmond, CA, Kansas City, MO and the Dominican Republic. Here’s a glimpse of a few of the events in these locations: Milwaukee Public School Students Get Free Books to Take Home; My Very Own Library Provides Free Books to Students.