An Oasis in the Book Desert Board books for preschool children are very expensive. So the nonprofit Kids Need to Read was thrilled to pick up 400 brand-new board books last year at the Fraternity Day of Service Signature Event in Phoenix. Armed with the supply of books, Kids Need to Read contacted local agencies serving young children to get the books into the hands of those boys and girls. A majority of the books were given out during a presentation at the Teen Pregnancy Outreach Services in Mesa, Arizona. Kids Need to Read staff illustrated reading aloud techniques, handed out books and encouraged parents and parents-to-be to read with their children. “Study after study indicates the single most significant factor influencing a child’s success in school is being read to at home,” said Denise Gary, Executive Director for Kids Need to Read. “Yet, many disadvantaged children live in book deserts, including homes where books are an unfamiliar luxury. Providing reading resources is absolutely crucial to increasing reading proficiency levels, and that is what we did with the books from Pi Beta Phi.” At the conclusion of the program, a young father approached the Kids Need to Read staff. He inquired for a business card, wanting to visit the organization’s office to look at books and pick out a stuffed reading buddy for his daughter. His devotion to his daughter moved the staff members and was the perfect culmination to the day’s events. 30
THE ARROW | SPRING 2016
Bringing the Joy of Reading to Children Everywhere By: Jennifer Frances Founder of Bess the Book Bus After having partnered with the Clearwater, Florida, Alumnae Club for several years, I was excited to learn about the Fraternity Day of Service Signature Event happening across the bay in Tampa, Florida. The mission of Bess the Book Bus is very similar to the goals of Pi Phi’s philanthropy, Read > Lead > Achieve. We are a mobile literacy outreach program dedicated to promoting reading and getting books into the hands of underprivileged children across the country. We touch the lives of 30,000 children each year. I started Bess the Book Bus in 2002 in honor of my Nana, Bess O’Keefe. Every weekend, we would walk into town where I was able to choose a new book. I could not wait to get home and have her read to me. Nana opened a new world for me every time she opened a book and started to read. Bess the Book Bus was founded on one simple premise: bring that same joy of reading to children everywhere. Originally a Volkswagen van, today’s Bess the Book Bus is a donated Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The back has been converted to a library complete with shelving and brightly colored murals of plants and animals. The bus travels to schools, after-school programs and early childhood education programs like Head
Published on Apr 7, 2016
In this issue: Sisters Connected by the Heart (p.23), We Believe in the Power of Reading (p.27), Take a Look Inside a Founders' Day Time Cap...