Book-sharing program targets young readers

Queen of Apostles, Rosary Cathedral team for initiative

9/13/2012
BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Adriana Borjas, left, stands next to her daughter Reina Conejo, 7, Felicia Guel, center, and her daughter Mya, 6, as they participate in the open house at the Queen of Apostles School in Toledo.
Adriana Borjas, left, stands next to her daughter Reina Conejo, 7, Felicia Guel, center, and her daughter Mya, 6, as they participate in the open house at the Queen of Apostles School in Toledo.

Queen of Apostles and Rosary Cathedral schools want to surround their students with books.

The two Catholic elementary schools, which are operated by Central City Ministry of Toledo, are trying to help families start their own reading libraries at home. The idea: to read more, to read together, to read and read.

“The majority of our children come to us two years behind, and one of the reasons certainly is they have not had the advantage of being read to or having books in the home,” said Jeanie Hayward, director of Central City Ministry of Toledo. “At every single thing we offer this year, the child will be taking a book home to add to their library. In some cases it will be the beginning of their library and in others it will be adding to.”

The initiative kicked off Tuesday night at an open house at Queen of Apostles, 235 Courtland Ave., in the Old South End. Students at Rosary Cathedral were to receive their first books at an open house at 6 p.m. today at the school, 2535 Collingwood Blvd.

The schools also are creating a book sharing program among their 370 students. All of the books have been donated — either new or like new.

 Sister Frances Marie watches Augustine Vallejo, 7, and his brother Armando Vellejo, right, as they choose free books.
 Sister Frances Marie watches Augustine Vallejo, 7, and his brother Armando Vellejo, right, as they choose free books.

“They have been donated by our board members. Some have been donated by former teachers. Some have been donated by students who have had little fund-raisers on their own,” Ms. Hayward said. “They’ve come from a variety of sources. They are new or maybe read once. They’re in beautiful shape.”

Rosary Cathedral also was selected as the site of a pilot program created by the Women’s Initiative of United Way of Greater Toledo called WordShop. Elaine Jansen, director of the Women’s Initiative, said beginning in October trained volunteers will be working in classrooms and one-on-one with Rosary students on creative writing.

“The whole goal is if we get kids passionate about reading and writing and what they can create, then they’ll be more interested about everything they’re learning in the classroom,” Ms. Jansen said.

In addition to classroom support, WordShop volunteers will take students on field trips to the Toledo Museum of Art, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library where they will get inspiration to create a story, write, and illustrate it.

“It’s a pilot school,” she said. “We hope in the future to be able to offer it to any classroom that needs help.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.