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‘Books In The Parks’ Program Going Strong After 15 Years

Participants in the “Books in the Park” do crafts at Somerset Mews. Photo: Arnav Tolat.


By Arnav Tolat.

For the past 15 years, township students have been able to make summer reading a priority through the Books in the Parks program.

In this program, high school volunteers visit various housing complexes and Franklin Middle School’s summer ESL classes during the month of July. The program runs Monday to Thursday, with two locations visited daily.

This year, the program visited Somerset Mews, Easton North, and The Arbors at Franklin, in addition to the middle school’s summer ESL Program. The Arbors at Franklin was a new introduction to the program this year. The program reached more than 100 students this July, most of whom are elementary schoolers.

During the visit, volunteers first read books to participants, and later engaged in crafts and activities. Participants are also borrowed new or slightly used books. Citizens, teachers, and Scholastic donated books to the program.

Franklin High School volunteer Rusil Shah described his experience. “The Books in the Parks program impacted me, as well as the students. I was able to become more confident through reading in front of large groups, and I felt like I helped the community.”

This years’ program is coordinated by two Franklin Township teachers, Maureen Guzman and Meghan Lordon.

Guzman described the importance of the program.

“The Books in the Parks program introduces reading to many students who otherwise wouldn’t be reading over the summer,” she said. “Many of these students don’t have access to many books at home, and having high schoolers read to participants gives them a positive role model to look up to.”

This year, the school district provided a bus to the program, simplifying the experience greatly for the organizers. It allowed the program to expand, as transportation issues were solved and the bus could be used as a moving “bookmobile”.

The program is free of cost for children, their families, and anyone else who seeks to attend. The program coordinators seek to grow the program in the future.

 

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