The Blackstone Innovation School, St. Stephen's Youth Programs, and Dr. Seuss--A Great Partnership!

On Friday, March 3, the Blackstone Innovation School and St. Stephen's Youth Programs celebrated reading and literacy with the Seventh Annual Read Across America Day. This is a nationwide event and is timed to fall near the birthday of many youngsters' favorite author, Dr. Seuss. Here in the South End, volunteers from non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, and corporate partners gathered in the Blackstone Library.  Readers picked out books and then fanned out to classrooms for an afternoon of reading.  Students in kindergarten through fifth grade happily joined visitors to share books and discuss how reading helps them in their everyday life.  

This year's event even had a twist! Blackstone students and staff alike dressed up as their favorite children's book character!  Many popular stories were represented: Harry Potter, Arthur and Buster (from Marc Brown’s Arthur series), and even Pigeon (from Mo Willems’s beloved series).  Pigeon tried but fortunately was thwarted from driving the bus. Phew!

Starting  in 2011, the Blackstone Innovation School and St. Stephen's Youth Programs have worked together to create a fully-functional library in what was previously a dusty storage space.  Thanks to the dedication of many volunteers as well as funding from Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, the school now has a top-notch library that is open and staffed (by volunteers) five days a week, boasts more than 12,000 volumes that are catalogued in an online database, has a subscription to EBSCO, hosts author visits several times a year, and celebrates Read Across America Day each year.  Every week, at least twenty classes full of smiling, excited students visit the library for read aloud time, the opportunity to borrow books, and the chance to travel the world thanks to the magic of reading. To learn more about the library and to explore volunteer opportunities, contact Maureen Burns at or stop by the Blackstone School to ask a library volunteer for a tour.

By Maureen Burns, Lead Organizer of School and Community Partnerships