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Diane Kahn
 
Lisa Rodrigues
 
Mary F. Foster
 
Peekskill Rotary Promotes Reading to Children
The Golden BookshelfPeekskill Rotary's Reading is Fundamental Committee, co-chaired by Diane Kahn and Lisa Montalto, created a Literacy Lovers program to educate and inspire parents and their young children ages birth to grade 8 to read.  The goal is to encourage a life-long love of reading for children by getting books into their homes.
 
With materials funded by the Rotary Club of Peekskill Foundation and support from Dain's Lumber and The Cortlandt Town Center, the committee is crafting “Golden Bookshelves” which will be stocked with age appropriate, new and gently used children’s books in both English and Spanish. The “Golden Bookshelves” will be strategically placed in Peekskill community facilities serving children in need. More than a thousand books were donated by Penguin/Random House and the Westchester Library System.
 
The Literacy Lovers and The Peekskill Rotary support the community initiative, "The Peekskill Basics," modeled after a similar program in Boston, Boston Basics.  The program seeks to foster parenting skills that will help children achieve their educational potential and to promote literacy in our community where access to books in low income areas is limited.  Because of this, the importance of reading tends to be overlooked for such reasons as poor adult literacy, lack of resources and parenting time, and appreciation for its critical long term value.  Mary Foster, Acting Superintendent of the Peekskill Schools spearheaded "The Peekskill Basics." Mary commented, “It’s so important to just get books into the hands of children.  The NY State Education Department report of 2015-2016 states that 83% of the Peekskill district’s 3198 students are “economically disadvantaged” and qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Over half of the student body are from Spanish-speaking homes. Households with limited incomes tend not to be filled with books and enrichment tools. Student performance on English Arts standardized tests lags behind the performance of neighboring suburban districts. Our goal is to lessen the gap by encouraging a love of reading in young children, leading to their academic success.  Our project will work in synergy to support this significant effort.”
 

The research is clear. Young children must have access to books to be successful readers and productive members of society. Books need to be in their homes, not only be in the schools.  Children need to have easily accessible libraries for their own use and to enjoy bedtime stories read by others. There truly is nothing like holding a book in hand, enjoying the excitement of each page and the anticipation of much more to come as the next page is turned.