Summer reading drive kicks off at Jersey City school

When Brittani Bunney of Jersey City decided to help School 22 collect books for a new summer reading drive, she didn’t realize how overwhelming the response would be.
“For a couple of weeks, my apartment — I live in a studio — was wall-to-wall books,” Bunney said.
Book donations came from all over Jersey City, and financial donations have topped $5,000, according to Bunney, who said she received calls from as far as Orlando, Fla. from people seeking to help or to start their own similar reading drive.
“And this is all from just one girl on Twitter,” said Bunney, who promoted the reading drive relentlessly on social media.
Last month, The Jersey Journal reported on the program, the brainchild of Bunney and Oscar Velez, the school’s principal. They want to leave baskets of books in local businesses in hopes that students will pick them up over the summer and start reading for pleasure.
Janine Anderson, the school’s assistant principal, said it’s not hard to get younger children to read for fun, but for older students, it’s a “challenge.”
“The six hours or so we have them, it’s not enough,” Anderson said.
The program launched yesterday. All morning, local officials visited the school to read to students and to encourage them to love reading. Jeremy Farrell, the city’s top attorney, read Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” City Council President Rolando Lavarro read “The Kissing Hand,” an Audrey Penn book about a little raccoon who doesn’t want to go to school.
Bunney said the students quizzed Lavarro as he read to them.
“They said, ‘Are these Jersey City raccoons?'” Bunney said.
Groups of students also marched through the neighborhood dropping off the baskets of books at local stores (one store declined to participate). School officials hope that students who don’t visit the library during the summer may spot a book in a bodega or laundromat and take it home to read.
Including donated books and books purchased with financial gifts, the school has more than 4,000 books, and plans to replenish the baskets throughout the summer.
Mayor Steve Fulop dropped by in the afternoon to read from Judith Moffatt’s “Who Stole the Cookies?”
Spoiler alert: it was a bear.

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