NEWS RELEASE, 12/10-99

Donations of new books sought by mayors, UC Berkeley chancellor, to help build kids' reading skills

By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- In an effort to help young students build their reading skills, Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl at the University of California, Berkeley, and the mayors of San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond, are asking Bay area residents this holiday season to donate new children's books.

The books would be used in UC Berkeley's AmericaReads literacy program, which serves elementary school students in low-income schools in the Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and West Contra Costa school districts.

At the end of the school year, the new books would be given to every student as an achievement award.

The book drive is now underway and continues through Jan. 8, 2000.

This is the second annual book drive for the AmericaReads program run by the campus's Berkeley Pledge program, a partnership among UC Berkeley and Bay area school districts that is aimed at starting kids out on a strong academic path.

Last year's drive, which targeted just the UC Berkeley community, garnered more than 350 books worth more than $5,000. This year's drive extends to the broader Bay area community, thanks to the support of Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean; Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin; Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown; and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

"We welcome the enthusiastic support of these mayors and hope to increase the number of books we will put in children's hands and homes this year," said Anita Madrid, coordinator of the Berkeley Pledge.

Students who received new books last year were very excited, said Ruth Paglierani, a UC Berkeley employee who directs a science and literacy program at Hoover Elementary in Oakland. And the books continue to leave a strong impression.

"Just the other day I was working with one of my students, and he pulled out this book on the planets," said Paglierani, "I said, 'Where did you get this book?' and he said, 'I got it last year.' It clearly had been read, there were little dog ears all over the place. He had just brought it (to class) on his own."

The book that the second grader was reading was, "The Planets in our Solar System" by Franklyn M. Branley.

"When they have books like this, it connects their own lives at home with the classroom," Paglierani said.

At the end of the school year new books are given to each student in the program - not just to those who have shown the most improvement.

"I think especially kids who are struggling need to be able to see the pleasure of reading, because it may not be obvious to them when they're first learning how to read," she said.

New children's books may be dropped off at the administrative offices of any of the school districts served by the Berkeley Pledge's AmericaReads program. Books may also be dropped off at Chancellor Berdahl's office at 200 California Hall at UC Berkeley.

In addition, new books and book certificates may be ordered online and shipped to the Berkeley Pledge offices at UC Berkeley by clicking on on the Berkeley Pledge Web site,

Barnes and Noble in Berkeley is offering a 10 percent discount on books purchased for the Berkeley Pledge Children's Books Drive.

President Clinton's AmericaReads Initiative provides work-study funds for college undergraduates across the country who tutor children in the program. The goal of AmericaReads is to have every child in the country reading at grade level by the fourth grade.

The Berkeley Pledge's AmericaReads program employs nearly 60 undergraduate students. Additional college students serve as volunteer tutors. The literacy program reaches more than 600 Bay Area children.


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