Early this June, Mercer Island elementary schools and preschools will be holding their first “Graduation Book Drive.” As children “graduate” from one reading level or grade level to another, parents are encouraged to donate their books for a good cause: families in need. Early reading books and board books are especially needed, but all donations are accepted.
Mercer Island resident and Island Park mom Dr. Sheryl Morelli is a pediatrician at the North Seattle Public Health Clinic. She works with many immigrant families and families in need. For them, buying books is a luxury they can’t afford. Through the Reach Out and Read national program, Dr. Morelli gets training about working on reading with families, as well as hundreds of books to give to families. However, “They are gobbled up in minutes,” she explains.
That is where three other Mercer Island moms come in. At a dinner party, Dr. Morelli was talking about the eagerness of so many families to learn English and create a better life for their children. The next day, Tana Senn had coffee with Christine Morrell, and Graduation Book Drive was born. Rebecca Warriner was recruited to help as well.
More than half a dozen schools on Mercer Island are participating in the book drive, June 7-11 (with Lakeridge’s, June 1-4, to coincide with their book swap). Participating schools include: Island Park Elementary School, Lakeridge Elementary School, the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Country Village Day School, St. Monica’s and Northwest Montessori. Jewish Family Service donated boxes for book collection.
Elementary schools and preschools are ideal places to collect gently used books for kids. Especially as children prepare to go from preschool to elementary school, parents are often trying to make room on bookshelves for new books and school work.
Principal Fred Rundle at Lakeridge Elementary jumped on to the idea immediately when Senn proposed it to him. He has even taken it one step further. Their fourth- and fifth-graders are taking it on as their class project. “Lakeridge is excited to be part of this initiative. It fits right in with our vision of spreading and sharing literacy with all,” he explained.
Fewer than half (48 percent) of parents in the United States read to their children daily. This means that 1 out of 3 kids entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills to begin reading. “Reading to kids at an early age is the best way to prepare them for school. Giving a book to a child is like giving them a better start for their future,” said Dr. Morelli.
Island Books will be putting a box in the store for general drop-offs for the Graduation Book Drive, and they will give a 20 percent discount for any book purchased there to be donated. All books will be given to Dr. Morelli’s health clinic for families in need.
Want to help?
For more information or to participate, contact Christine Morrell at ChristineMorrell@yahoo.com or Tana Senn at TanaSenn@gmail.com.