St. Stephen’s Youth Programs (SSYP) and the Blackstone Elementary School kicked off their ninth year of a formal partnership and readers of all ages celebrated their love of books. One of the signature projects of SSYP is the school library, which was without one for almost a decade before the partnership. The Blackstone Library is open to students and teachers five days a week. With close to 12,000 well-organized volumes on the shelves, an online database of these books, regular author visits, a subscription to the search engine EBSCO, and a cheery, well-lit space, the Blackstone is one of the premier elementary school libraries in Boston Public Schools. This is all thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers and resources raised outside of the school’s regular budget.
Library volunteers, who are neighborhood residents and members of suburban Episcopal churches, welcome two-thirds of the school’s classrooms (23 of 35) for weekly visits to the library for read-alouds and book-borrowing. Adults work hard to get to know each young person in grades K0 to 5, helping students find the “just-right” book to read independently.
In October, young readers at the school met Newbery Honor-winning author Adam Gidwitz. This and other author visits to the Blackstone School have been made possible because of SSYP’s partnership with Wondermore, Inc., a Boston-based non-profit agency that seeks to “cultivate children’s curiosity, creativity, and academic achievement by igniting a love of good books.” During his time at the school, Gidwitz presented his new series, The Unicorn Rescue Society, and shared insights into the writing process with an enthusiastic audience of third graders. Thanks to the generosity of Wondermore and Gidwitz, each student took home a copy of the first book in the series. Wondermore also provided copies of the next two books in the series to all the third-grade classrooms and to the Blackstone Library, where they are proving to be popular checkout choices!
In November Blackstone Library volunteers led activities at the Blackstone’s Family Literacy Night, an annual event that encourages a spirit of literacy at school and at home. More than forty students visited library, bringing their friends and family members, to make bookmarks, pick up some reading-related swag, and read stories to the library’s mascot, Clifford the Big Red Dog.
The library program relies on volunteers who keep their focus on supporting classroom teachers and enriching the reading experience for students. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities in the library, please email the Blackstone-SSYP’s Library Coordinator, Tricia Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a visit or join the next orientation session.
Support for the Blackstone Library can also come through donations. During this festive season, please consider donating a book from the Blackstone-SSYP Wish List, found online at Porter Square Books: www.portersquarebooks.com/wishlist/280
Be sure to mention in the Order Comments section that you are ordering for Blackstone Library to receive a 10% discount. Choose "In-store Pick-up" as the delivery option and Blackstone Volunteers will take it from there.
By Tricia Harvey, Library Coordinator