Uncommon Schools, Libraries and Elected Officials Lead Programs Aimed at Summer Literacy

Over a hundred children ranging from kindergarten through high school participated in two programs designed to get children and families excited about summer reading.

The events, which happened this month at the Bed-Stuy Marcy Branch and at the Brownsville Branch of the Brooklyn Library, have been sponsored for the last several years by Uncommon Schools, which has partnered with the Brooklyn Library, local elected officials and community stakeholders to make the program available.

In Bed-Stuy, Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright and City Councilman Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., sat down on the floor as children gathered around while each read books.

“I love reading and I am so happy to host Bed-Stuy Reads with Uncommon Schools and the Marcy Public Library,” Wright said. “I enjoy reading to all of the youngsters and providing them with plenty of free books to read over the summer.”

Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, center, with the Brooklyn Public Library Staff. Contributed Photo.

Cornegy said the program is a perfect way to support families and youngsters to read during the summer months.

“Bed-Stuy Reads is an excellent opportunity to share my love of reading with the youth in my community,” Cornegy said. “Books have been a way to travel when I couldn’t physically, it allowed me to learn and to escape.”

In Brownsville, supporters were City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel, State Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. All three represent Brownsville and sent staffers to the event.

Alicka Ampry-Samuel
City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel
State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

“Last year, I participated in my first Brownsville Reads event with Uncommon Schools and joined my colleagues in a read along,” Ampry-Samuel said. “I was immediately uplifted by all the children who participated and quickly realized that Brownsville Reads was not just about reading books to children. The event created an environment that fostered intergenerational leadership and real student engagement. It empowered young children to want to learn more and ask questions.”

Myrie said he is proud to support the program’s service to the community’s families.

“Brownsville Reads provides an invaluable opportunity to support the growth and development of our young people and put them on the path to success,” Myrie said.

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker

Walker said Brownsville Reads is a great opportunity to kick off summer reading and promote the importance of reading during the extended summer break.

“It’s my pleasure to partner with Uncommon Schools for this event, and I am excited that every child who attends will leave with books to have fun reading during the summer and all year long,” Walker said.

Many students experience the “summer slide,” the well-documented phenomenon in which students lose some of the academic gains they made during the school year.

“Helping children discover the joy of reading is Brooklyn Public Library’s most important mission,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO, Linda E. Johnson. “Strong literacy skills are a foundation for life in the modern digital age. BPL is committed to helping families find books and resources this summer and all year round.”

The program was launched three years ago by Uncommon Schools as a way to get children, not only those who attend the school, excited about summer reading. Uncommon Schools NYC is a high-performing charter school network with 24 schools, serving over 8,000 students in Brooklyn.

“These are community events with the goal of getting children excited about reading, especially during the summer months, which is a goal that we all want for all of our children,” said Crystal McQueen-Taylor, Uncommon Schools regional senior director for New York City.

“Hosting this event with our the Brooklyn Public Library and our community partners enables us to give families access to hundreds of free books and makes reading fun – with opportunities to read with our community leaders and exciting prizes all centered around the joy of reading,” McQueen-Taylor said.

Parent Queen Horton said she appreciated the way the program was structured.

“It is important to have our leaders influence children in the library,” Horton said. “The staff was so nice and of course it’s always great to get free books.”

The Bed-Stuy program was co-hosted by Community Board #3, Modern MD Urgent Care, the Coalition of Community Charter Schools, Digital Girl and Reading Partners.

Oma Holloway, chair of Community Board #3 Education and Youth Committee, said her organization was proud to join Uncommon Schools and the other community partners to sponsor the program.

“As we continue to advocate for all young people to receive quality and equitable education in our community, CB 3 is equally committed to ensuring that all students understand the importance of reading, have abundant access to books and literacy programs in Bedford Stuyvesant,” Holloway said.

Michael Catlyn, the acting executive director of the Coalition of Community Charter Schools, said the organization is happy to partner with Uncommon Schools, libraries and local businesses to support reading.

“Reading opens the door to our imagination and we must seize every opportunity to encourage children to read,” Catlyn said. “We hope kids plug into the Universe of Stories through the summer reading program this year.”

Partnering for the first time in the program this year is ModernMD Urgent Care.

“As a Brooklyn – based healthcare organization, ModernMD believes strongly in supporting the holistic wellness of children and families in Bed-Stuy through empowerment, education and access,” said Melissa Cohen, vice president of marketing for ModernMD Urgent Care.

Adam Senack, volunteer organizer for Reading Partners New York, said Bed-Stuy Reads fits with Reading Partner’s mission to promote strong reading skills.

“We understand how important it is to encourage children to read and prevent the summer slump,” Senack said. “We are pleased to partner with Uncommon Schools to host this event to ensure that children have books and are excited about summer reading.”

More from Around New York