‘Books In The Park’ Mobile Lending Library Brings Books To Community

July 201415

FHS ESL teacher Fran Bardusco, left, and FHS student volunteer Yannie Shawn read to children of the Easton North apartment complex.

A 12-year-old program that brings a mobile “lending library” to school children during the summer is in full swing in the township.

Called “Books in the Park,” the program targets summer recreation programs and the township’s rental communities. Several district teachers and a handful of Franklin High School students help children “take out” books and lead them in crafts and games, all to promote literacy.

“We know those who read, succeed,” said Fran Bardusco, one of the program’s co-founders, said at a stop at the Easton North apartment complex off Easton Avenue. “We bring books to the community.”

The Easton North group was comprised entirely of young children not yet in the school system. These “pre-readers,” Bardusco said, benefit from the program because they learn at an early age that reading is fun.

Bardusco founded the program with Pat Quinteros, a former Franklin High School teacher. It was originally funded through a grant from the New Jersey Education Association and since then has been supported by the Board of Education and through donations of books, crafts, supplies, snacks and equipment from the community, the Franklin Township Library, the Lambertville Free Public Library and Scholastic Books.

The high school volunteers help the children “check out” books of their choosing. The borrower’s name is placed on a card, which is pet in the program.

“If they don’t return the books, we don’t mind that at all,” Bardusco said. “We think it’s just fine that books are in the homes.”

Bardusco is assisted this year by Connie Stanzione, a recently retired district teacher and Farrah Hussain, a new high school teacher.

July 201403

FHS student volunteers (left to right) Somti Anya, Nana Kissi and Javalie Hanson.

The student volunteers came to the program in different ways.

Somti Anya, who will be entering his senior year at the high school, was taken to the program when he was 7 years old by his sister. He said after that, he “became addicted to it.”

After a while, he said, “they would give me little jobs to do.”

“I like seeing the kids read,” Anya said.

Nana Kissi, who ail be a junior at FHS come September, said he was drawn into the program by his friend, Anya.

He said he, too, like to see the younger children reading.

Javalie Hanson, who will also be a senior at FHS in September, said he started volunteering to garner hours toward his volunteering requirement, but soon grew to like the program.

“I realized it was making an impact in the community,” he said.

Anya, Kissi and Hanson worked at the check-out desk. Anya and Kissi also read stories to the children and led them through a linguistic cadence exercise using small musical shakers.

Arts and crafts are also part of the program. Two more high school volunteers run that part: Yannie Shawn and Natalia Gonzalez will both be juniors in September.

“I like working with kids,” Gonzalez said.

Shawn said Gonzalez suggested she volunteer as well.

July 201404

Student volunteers Shawn, left and Natalia Gonzalez.

She said she was lining up a volunteer opportunity in an office environment, but this seemed better.

“I wanted something more hands-on,” she said. “This is perfect for that.”

The program will return to Easton North from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 28 and 30, and will be at Somerset Mews, 1 Reler Ln., from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 24, 29 and 31.

The group will also be making stops in several district summer camp and enrichment programs.

Books in the Park 2014



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