2019 Bookcase Project Winds Up
Sixty hand-crafted bookcases and sixty excited children combined for a rousing Sunday afternoon on April 28th at Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center. The event was the culmination of the 8th annual Ashland County “Bookcase for Every Child” project that aims to promote literacy by giving children in the Head Start program access to books and an incentive to read. Each bookcase, built by students in the Career Center’s Construction Technology program, was filled with books worth about six hundred dollars according to project founder and former director Julia Wright.
Wright, a retired teacher, gave attendees a brief history of the project in Ashland County and stressed the importance of literacy to children and to a community. She cited disturbing national statistics and local statistics related to illiteracy, including the fact that 46% of 5 year-olds in Ashland County need some type of language-skill intervention before entering kindergarten. She urged parents to spend twenty minutes each day reading to their children, thus allowing the little ones to hear around one million words per year.
Former teacher/Ashland University professor/story teller David Kowalka was the guest speaker for the event and put his skills to work with a tale illustrating to parents how to engage their children with a story. While Kowalka kept parents entertained, the children were whisked away to a “story time” session with reading by students from the Career Center’s Early Childhood Education program.
Each child was called forward to receive his or her own bookcase personalized with a nameplate made by students in the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing program, plus a selection of books, and the 2019 project mascot, a stuffed Donald Duck doll. The Donald Duck theme was also carried out with each child receiving a special Donald Duck cookie. Photographers from the Graphic Communications program were on hand to photograph each child with their bookcase and the Culinary Careers program supplied refreshments.
Children were thrilled with their gifts and parents were pleased. When asked her thoughts, mother Emily Long said, “This is such a help. As a mother of three children, I can’t afford a lot of stuff. My older child received one of these bookcases and books last year and we have read each book at least five times. My kids and I are so thankful.”