Reading Rocks

Junior League of Wichita confirmed its strong commitment to children’s literacy by continuing the successful “Reading Rocks: Literacy for Lifelong Learning” project for the 2007-2008 school year. This project involved the successful partnership of Junior League of Wichita, Wichita Public Library and Wichita Public Schools.

During the years 2006-2008, Reading Rocks accomplished two very important goals. First, purchasing much-needed books for seven Wichita public elementary school libraries, and second, promoting the spring and summer reading programs at Wichita Public Library branches.

Junior League of Wichita contributed more than $120,000 towards the purchase of thousands of new books. The schools benefiting from the project included Cessna, Earhart, Minneha and Bryant elementary schools.

However, Reading Rocks was not just about purchasing books. The committeealso arranged nine successful literacy-based events involving the schools and the library branches.

The initial activities centered on the unveiling of the new books at each school. We hit a “home run” at Cessna Elementary, when students and their families joined Junior Leaguers to celebrate the arrival of the new library books. “Baseball” and “Reading” were the themes for the evening. At Bryant’s “Math Night” we were joined by several League sustainers for an evening of mystery, math and, of course, the book unveiling. The students and parents at Minneha joined Reading Rocks committee members for a fun-filled evening of hot dogs and stories around the campfire. Dressed in pajamas, the students at Earhart came out for “Family Literacy Night” and were thrilled with the new books for their library.

Each school showed its gratitude in their own special way, whether through announcements thanking the League on the public address system or beautiful banners and posters signed by all of the children. As if seeing the smiles on the students' faces as the books were unveiled wasn’t enough!

To encourage the students to visit the Wichita Public Library during spring break, the committee organized several story time donut parties. This resulted in more than 100 students visiting public library branches during the break. These well attended literacy-related events culminated in April with a Read-In at Bryant Elementary. During the Read-In, children from four schools and their families listened to stories read by Mayor Brewer and other notable civic leaders of Wichita.

On occasion, League members wonder just how effective are our community projects. Are we making a difference? Well, with Reading Rocks, the answer was a resounding yes!

The League’s two-year commitment to this project directly benefitted an estimated 3,050 students at the seven elementary schools.

However, with the average life of 10 years per book, as many as 30,000 students will be impacted by the library collections during the next decade. This does not include the potential impact to family members who also will benefit.

If that is not enough, both our community partners agree that this project greatly benefited the children of Wichita. “The powerful part of the Reading Rocks grant is not just that we’re helping children this school year, but for years to come through the donations to school libraries. By getting these children excited about reading through events such as the Read-In, and ensuring their libraries have new books to match their budding interests, Reading Rocks makes quite an impact,” said Cynthia Berner Harris, director of libraries, Wichita Public Library.

According to Janet Fowler, supervisor of library media operations for the Wichita Public Schools, “the investment that the Junior League of Wichita has made in the lives of Wichita elementary students at seven of our school libraries will have a long-lasting affect on promoting their love of reading and the importance of literacy.”

Overall, Reading Rocks was a “win-win” for everyone involved, but most importantly, this wonderful project has provided the children of Wichita with a lifelong legacy of learning.

Donut party for Cessna Elementary students who visited the public library over spring break.
Mayor Carl Brewer reads to Wichita elementary students during the Reading Rocks "Read-In" event in April 2008. The night was a celebration of the project's two-year intitative to put books into the hands of local school children and foster a love of reading.
Reading Rocks Committee members conducted several events at local schools throughout the 2007-2008 League year to promote reading.

Junior League of Wichita

6402 East 12th Street
Wichita, Kansas 67206-1306
Phone: 316.682.7473