Free Books for Kids Town Gives Children a Choice: Community Gems
One organization that is all about getting books in the hands of children is this week's Community Gem. Here's why this group is different than other literacy programs in our region.
On the move, and fueled by books, Ruby Wiles believes in the power of books. She travels with a suitcase of them.
"When I go to Warren Area Elementary Center where there 700 kids, I'll bring 2000 or more books, so they really get to see them," said Ruby.
12 years ago, Ruby started Free Books for Kids Town in Warren, Pennsylvania. She says her son was becoming a voracious reader.
"I saw that his friends weren't readers and I thought what would happen if they had a choice," said Ruby. "If they actually got books."
And that's what her literacy program is all about. Children choose.
"Which based on research shows choice is what motivates children," said Ruby.
This this year is a big year for her program
"This year for the first time we are going o give every child in Warren County in kindergarten through 8th grade, at least one, hopefully two free books before they leave school for summer," said Ruby.
Books that she searches for all year long, through donations and working with publishers.
"We pride ourselves on often as much as we can," said Ruby. "Giving hardcover books because they last longer."
Aside from visiting public & parochial schools, the reach of these books also extends into Warren General Hospital.
And program is making a difference. Thank You Notes often pour from students, expressing their gratitude for books, they get to choose.
"Funding is what's holding us back from reaching more children," said Ruby.
But the stories from the youth that are reached are priceless.
"One time a second grader said to me, this is Heaven," said Ruby.
Talk about connecting with the community. Next Saturday, on May 6th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the organization will host an interactive festival, complete with kids activities, including face painting, the chance to build a wooden Batmobile.
It's happening on 2nd Avenue near Liberty St. in downtown Warren.