854 Lakewood High School Students Take Part in Reading Contest

LakewoodGR (400x300)Red Bank, NJ (February 3, 2014)- The Bridge of Books Foundation (BoB) announced the results of a partnership with the Lakewood Public School District, The Charles Lafitte Foundation and the Charles Edison Fund to expand a Statewide program to encourage High Schoolers to think about the impact that reading has on their lives and on their future. An overwhelming number of students took part in the program, which garnered intriguing and eye-opening results.

The program, entitled TEENS TALK BOOKS, was designed to reach teens through writing contests held at high schools across the state. The goal of the program was to encourage recreational reading and to gather data on how teens view reading and to find out what books interest them. The program was first launched in 2012 in the Newark Public Schools with the “Are You Hungry for Books?” contest, in which 200 students took part, and was followed-up with a Winter 2013 contest at Keansburg High School, where 174 students took part.

The Lakewood High School TEENS TALK BOOKS program took place on November 25, 26 and 27, 2013. Over 70% (854) of the over 1,200 Lakewood High students filled out an on-line survey asking them questions on how they felt about books and why reading is important. Each student who filled out a survey was awarded a new book, and entered in a contest to win another new book of their choice. Entries were judged by educators from around the state, including representatives from Teach for America and River Road Books in Fair Haven. Twenty winners were announced on February 3.

“The judging was both joyful and heart-wrenching,” said Bridge of Books Founder and Executive Director Abby Daly. “There were so many interesting and thoughtful responses from the students. Several students admitted to struggling with reading, but over 80% of all the students responded that knowing how to read well is important, and they want to improve. Hearing that was so gratifying to the educators involved with this project,” said Daly. “We know that reading allows students to find out more about the larger world around them, while improving their literacy skills and opening their minds to new ideas.”

One freshman student wrote: “A book…makes you see things in a different way. That’s why reading is so important to me. It makes me feel like I can do anything in the world.” A 10th garde student asked for a dictionary “because I would like to learn new words to expand my vocabulary and learn new words so I can use wiser words.”

Lakewood High School English Teacher Kevin Walters expressed his gratitude and excitement about the program. “Any time we can generate interest in reading is an opportunity we should seize. All of our teachers are amazed at the level of student participation in this program and we’re so pleased and proud of the results.”

“As in the Newark and Keansburg programs, what we found in Lakewood has been fascinating and heartening,” said Daly of the TEENS TALK BOOKS contests. “Again we heard from the students that only 5% considered their home the best place to find a book, leading us to believe that we need to get more books into these children’s homes. And that’s what the Bridge of Books Foundation is all about.”

TEENS TALK BOOKS is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Lafitte Foundation (CLF) (Brielle) and the Charles Edison Fund (Newark). Both are active annual donors to Bridge of Books. CLF supports innovative and effective ways of helping people help themselves and others around them to achieve healthy, satisfying and enriched lives. The Charles Edison Fund is dedicated to the support of worthwhile endeavors in education and specifically provides seed money to projects that would not otherwise get off the ground.