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Be On The Lookout: Book Pantries Are Popping Up In G.R.

Read GR

Book pantries for kids are popping up all around Grand Rapids. This as Grand Rapids’ community wide summer reading program moves into its second week.  ReadingGR leaders talk about how children can participate-even with the changes stemming from COVID-19. 

“Books are great for two things-to see your own experiences reflected back at you, which validates you but also to introduce you to things you may never have known before.”

Becca Walsh Wolfe is the Program Manager of ReadGR.  They continue to encourage reading throughout the summer. And with the help of Rockford Construction, they have created book pantries, which you perhaps have seen around town. 

And Becca says, what was once, “Storytime in the Park”, is now renamed as “Storytime GR.”

“With the pandemic, we realized we couldn’t host these weekly story time in the park and so, we wanted to come up with another way of getting books out and in a way, it’s more important than ever because the kids haven’t been in school.”

This will help to keep kids reading throughout the summer months when experts say kids can lose reading skills due to what’s referred to as “summer learning loss”.  It’s the fallout of kids being away from the classroom.

“It’s even a bigger concern this year, how much of that slide is going to occur. So we were trying to get ways to get books to the kids that need them the most and the book pantries are just one way we’re doing this.”

Becca says kids will have many options of books to pick from, nw books curated for the population of the neighborhood.

“So, for example there are a lot of books in Spanish and we will have books with a lot of people of color, because we want kids to be able to see themselves in the books.”

About 12 book pantries will be installed. The program will go throughout the summer and Becca says they’ll reassess come fall on who to proceed.