Kids at local Headstart enjoy books donated by traveling family
Lolly Easley (left) and Brenda Berg pass out books to pre-k students at the Ridgeway Head Start program. The Berg family is making a cross-country trip in an RV to promote reading and partnering with First Books to hand our free books to school children.
Brenda Berg and her two children left North Carolina a month ago to embark on a six-city road trip to have family time, tour national landmarks, and donate books to children.
On each stop the Bergs donate 1,000 books — in partnership with First Books, a nonprofit agency that provides free books to children — and blog about their travels on their GumpTrip.com website.
“It’s really important for people to understand the dire need for children to get books,” Berg said Friday in Memphis, the first stop on a tour that also includes New Orleans, San Diego, Omaha, Seattle and a Native American reservation. “It’s a crisis in our country that children don’t have an age appropriate book in their homes.”
Memphishosted the Bergs at the Ridgeway Headstart in Southeast Memphis. Headstart, the University of Memphis and First Book-MidSouth based assignments and exercises on the six books’ theme: emotions.
“We wanted to make sure it was tied to a curriculum,” said Berg. “We wanted to make sure the children who really need them get them, and that’s what First Book does best.”
Lolly Easley, chair of First Book-MidSouth, said research has proved that reading has lifelong effects on children.
“Six books per child is what we call a steady diet of books,” said Easley. “We’re excited that it’s being given to them in the context that they can thrive. They can learn to read with teachers, do the exercises and activities and take the books home.”
Headstart student KeShawn Jackson, 4, said Friday was a happy day after he got two free books, the first in a series of six.
“I feel wonderful,” said Jackson. “I’m going to read the books to (my family).”
Divalyn Gordon, Ridgeway Headstart principal, said KeShawn anticipated coming to school Friday morning after he saw her unpacking books Thursday afternoon for the giveaway.
“He said, ‘I want to take it home now,’ but I told him he had to wait until the RV showed up,” said Gordon. “When he showed up this morning he said, ‘Do I get my two books today?’”
Gordon said her students were excited to see the RV that the Bergs were traveling in and get their books.
“It makes them feel special to be able say, ‘Someone took out the time to come see me today and bring me books,’” said Gordon. “This is an experience they can share with their families. They now have a story to go along with their books.”