"Reading opens up learning and opportunities for kids," says Grace Yu, who signed up her son’s school, Lee F. Jackson in White Plains, for the Books 4 Our School challenge. “I see how happy and excited my son is when he reads.” After voting online for her son’s school to win free books through the challenge, Yu then contacted the school’s PTA president in an effort to garner more votes. The Books 4 Our School challenge is a campaign that will provide 75-100 new books to 20 public and private elementary and middle schools as well as daycare centers in the New York area and Fairfield County in Conn.
Nadia Pettignano, whose child also attends Lee F. Jackson, learned about the challenge through the PTA and did not hesitate to vote for the school. “It’s important for our school’s young students to have access to as many books as possible,” says Pettignano who shares that there are 300 kindergarten and first-graders at the school. “We have kids that may not have access to any books at their homes, so making sure we can provide books for kids…is extremely important. We need to show the parents of our children in the school that if we all pitch in to our child’s education, we can make a difference in their lives.”
Yu and Pettignano are not ones stepping up to the challenge. Thousands of parents from New York’s five boroughs, Westchester and Rockland counties, Long Island, and Fairfield County have already voted for their child's school since the challenge kicked off late March. From public and private schools in Long Island, Fairfield, and beyond, the response shows that all types of schools are always in need of new books, including private schools.
“The private Catholic school [my daughter attends] receives no state funding. Six Long Island Catholic schools will be closing at the end of this school year,” says Lynn Wright whose efforts of rallying fellow parents to vote for her daughter’s school puts St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional school on the map as one of the top challengers so far, competing with school libraries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Fairfield, CT, and Westchester. “Times are tough and every little bit helps.”
Additionally, Wright found a personal connection with the organization that will be providing free books to the winners of the challenge: the Brooke Jackman Foundation. The 10-year-old nonprofit dedicated to increasing kid’s literacy throughout New York was founded in honor of Brooke Jackman, a bright and compassionate 23-year-old avid reader who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks before achieving her dream of becoming a social worker.
“I had never heard of the charity, but felt connected to it because I lost my brother, New York City fireman, Brian E. Sweeney, on September 11,” Wright says. “I thought it would be a nice way of contributing to [my daughter’s] school.”
Mandy Kelman voted for A Child’s Garden in Fairfield, CT, the school her 5-year-old twin boys have attended the last three years. “I signed up our school because I really just thought I had nothing to lose--if we win, great; if not, oh well,” Kelman says. “As a full-time working mom--and with all the guilt that goes along with that--I have never doubted that my boys are being well cared for and are learning something every day.”
The Books 4 Our School challenge to win 75-100 new books is open to all public and private schools in the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk Westchester, Rockland, and Fairfield, Conn. counties. Votes will be taken through April 30. There will be 20 winners: 10 schools with the most votes and 10 lucky schools selected at random. The Books 4 Our School challenge is sponsored by the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a 10-year-old nonprofit dedicated to promoting children’s literacy, and NYMetroParents, publisher of eight regional parenting magazines throughout the New York metropolitan area.
To get involved in the challenge, visit books4ourschool.org.