NEWTON FALLS — Hundreds of children, parents and educators stocked up on their summer reading material during a summer reading expo and book giveaway at Newton Falls Middle School on Saturday.
More than 15,000 books were made available at no cost to families, educators and school staff.
Newton Falls was chosen as the site of the event because of its proximity to other communities and schools that also benefited from the event. The Brookfield Federation of Teachers, Jackson Milton Educators Association, Lordstown Teachers Association, Mahoning County Educational Service Center Education Association, Mineral Ridge Education Association and the Newton Falls Classroom Teachers Association, as well as the Ohio Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers and First Book were all instrumental in assuring the success of the reading expo.
Six different unions and at least 60 people were involved in the setup of the program, which involved volunteers working throughout the week getting things ready.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and his wife, Andrea, who teaches first grade at Mineral Ridge, were present to show support of the reading expo. He said he received a call from the Ohio Federation of Teachers union.
“The turnout to programs like these really show the need,” Ryan said.
The schools and educators wanted to help close the gap and get books into the hands of children who might otherwise not have access to them over the summer months. With the rising costs of gas and food, many families that are struggling may consider books a luxury, and not essential.
By 11:30 a.m., just 90 minutes into the event, more than 250 families had already benefited from the program, where each child could choose up to 10 books for their home library, and educators and school staff could choose up to 40 books for their classrooms.
The book choices covered genres including, fantasy, mystery, chapter books, and Disney just to name a few.
Kaylie Wilkinson said she enjoys mysteries, and Melanie and Jacob Zimmerman recommended the series “The Keeper of the Lost Cities.”
When a love of reading is planted and fostered, there is no stopping someone with the drive to fulfill their dream, organizers said.
First Book is a national, nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to ensuring educational equity as a path out of poverty. The organization addresses the barriers to education faced by children in low-income and historically excluded communities, providing brand-new books and resources to kids in need. It was founded in 1992.
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