This fact blows my mind:
While each of Pennsylvania’s state prisons is required to have a librarian with a Master’s degree, a collection of 5,000 books, subscriptions to 20 periodicals, and seating space for 20, no such requirements exist for our schools.
Dig it; our children, our future, often do not have access to a school library, let alone a master degreed librarian or a collection of materials. The school to prison pipeline is a real thing and if it were not for organizations like West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), some of the schools in Philadelphia would find children without library services.
Since 2009 WePAC has committed roughly 10,000 hours per year to reopening, staffing and operating volunteer-run libraries in Philadelphia public elementary schools, with a large and talented volunteer force providing library services and mentoring to thousands of children each week. This academic school year they will operate in 14 schools and have mentoring programs at four of these locations.
The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) had their volunteer kickoff on Friday and I was invited to be a guest speaker. I shared read aloud tips during their meeting and demonstrated B. J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures (you can visit the library’s YouTube page for a version of my reading). Other guests included a former librarian sharing how to incorporate songs with your readers and information on mandated reporting.
The school year is off to a good start. Volunteers were excited to chat about their school, share their goals for the upcoming year and it was exciting to listen to them chat with each other. Heather Farber, the executive director of the program, was so enthusiastic that it was contagious.
If you are invested in helping, there are plenty of ways you can help. Donations are always welcome and you can donate on their website or mail a check in to their location in Philadelphia. Volunteer your time using this link to get signed up. Start a drive or follow WePac on Twitter or Facebook.
Support WePAC’s mission is to promote childhood literacy. Let’s get our students empowered with the literacy skills vital to the success of the child and the prosperity