NEIGHBORS OF BELLEFONTAINE — Children aged 3 and 4 laughed and cried while listening to a book, in the park, during their very first excursion.
What they didn’t know was that ‘Cannon’s Crash Course’ was chosen to represent the one million books distributed by Ready Readers over its 25 years as a literacy nonprofit. from early childhood. After the class from Baden Christian Child Care Center heard the story of a young boy and his bicycle, they walked along the Maline Greenway to Bella Fontaine County Park where each page of the book is displayed on signposts.
Storybook walks featuring local author Mon Trice’s book and illustrated by local artist Cbabi Bayoc will be on display at two dozen locations across the city and county of St. Louis through May. .
“I love field trips,” said Lisa Scheer, director of the daycare. “We’ve been locked up for so long, you want to get as many as you can.”
Julius B. Anthony read the book to preschoolers as part of Ready Readers’ commemoration of his millionth book given to children in low-income neighborhoods.
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“Typically, these parents don’t have extra income to support their homes with children’s books,” said Anthony, president and founder of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature. “Having these storybook walks in their neighborhood gives them something to do as a family and supports them as readers, seeing literacy in their surroundings.”
Before the pandemic, 400 volunteers visited children in schools and daycare centers each week to read and distribute books. Now, Ready Readers has just 200 volunteers, while the number of school sites has increased to 250.
New volunteers are needed and are being trained before reading in classrooms, said the nonprofit’s executive director, Angela Sears Spittal.
Ready Readers will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a free block party on June 4 at Bella Fontaine Park.