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kids exchanging books

Event set to donate 2,000 books to Richmond kids

on June 3, 2011

Freed from the rigors of school, summer is often that golden time for local kids, days of play and swim and games.

And reading?

That’s the hope for organizers of Saturday’s 2nd annual Richmond Tales Family Literacy Festival, an event that will combine games, performances and local history with a book giveaway that aims to put stacks of books into the hands of hundreds of local kids.

“Kids tend to lose a lot of what they’ve learned over the summer,” said Jim Becker, vice president of development and program services for the Richmond Community Foundation, the nonprofit organization that hosts the event. “Our goal is to get the books in their hands and get them excited about reading.”

The problem Becker alluded to is dubbed “summer learning loss.” Studies have shown that students score lower on identical standardized tests at the end of summer than they do at the beginning of summer.

Organizers hope to keep kids a little sharper this summer, and they expect 1,000 people and dozens of community-based partners to gather from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Richmond College Prep School at 217 South 11th St. In the event of rain, activities will move inside Nystrom Elementary School’s auditorium next door. Every kid can expect to be given three to five books, Becker said.

Last year’s event drew about 800 people, and featured musical and spoken word performances as well as raffles and other prize giveaways. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and County Supervisor John Gioia were among last year’s attendees.

mayor gayle mclaughlin

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, pictured here at last year's event, will be on hand Saturday (photo by Robert Rogers)

“We gave out almost 2,000 books to kids last year,” Becker said.

The books are collected via donation drives by West County Reads, a volunteer organization that collects books from communities including Richmond, Kensington, El Sobrante, Hercules and other West Contra Costa County communities, Becker said.

The event is specifically targeted in to this Iron Triangle neighborhood, which has been challenged by crime, poverty and high drop out rates for years.

Beginning in 2009, the Richmond Community Foundation and other partners began conducting a “listening campaign” to determine what residents needed in terms of support. The results of the interviews were compiled into a comprehensive report that identified education as one of the key needs in the community.

This year’s event will open with a Native American drummer and Ohlone Indian storytelling. Face painting and arts and crafts will also be available.

McLaughlin is scheduled to address the crowd at 11:45 a.m., and Summer Brenner and a troupe of youths will perform a skit based on the book that is the event’s namesake beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Richmond Tales is Brenner’s acclaimed 2009 book. The story hinges on time travel, and takes readers on a journey through World War II and the era of Victory Gardens as well as other periods, sprinkling in facts about Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood.

The co-sponsors and organizers of the event include West County Reads, Richmond College Prep Schools, Kaiser Permanente, City of Richmond, Richmond Community Foundation, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, West Contra Costa Unified School District.


Literacy Festival
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1 Comment

  1. Troy McCormick on June 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Our kids need to have books because computers and video games have really taken over, in fact we need adult literacy books to be made available too, with education in our community we will be able to get ahead and get more people to listen to us and help improve our city. -The Friends of El Cerrito del Norte:

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