MCLA

Berkshire Compact Announces "Wee Read Berkshrie County" Event for Youth

03/28/2012

NORTH ADAMS, MA - The Berkshire Compact for Education and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announce the second annual Wee Read Berkshire County initiative, to be held during the month of April in recognition of the Week of the Young Child, April 22 - 28, and National Library Week, celebrated from April 8 - 14. 

Through Wee Read Berkshire County, 1,500 free copies of "Duck on a Bike" by David Shannon will be distributed to young children at events throughout Berkshire County.   The initiative is an effort of the Berkshire Compact and its collaborators to promote early literacy and encourage families to read to their children. Wee Read Berkshire County draws upon the expertise of early childhood organizations and libraries from throughout Berkshire County.  The initiative's name is a countywide extension of Pittsfield's Wee Read program. 

According to School Library Journal, "This delightful story will have youngsters chiming in on the repeated phrases and predicting, in no time, what will happen next, and the many animal sounds provide ample opportunities for role-playing. Shannon's brightly colored spreads are filled with humor." 

Along with the book, the Berkshire Compact will distribute the Berkshire Compact's "Passport to Educational Success," which lists important milestones from early childhood education through grade 5 that lead to positive educational outcomes.  In addition, children will receive a customized bookmark that has tips regarding the importance of reading to young children. Local leaders will read the book at selected events.

Wee Read Berkshire County will include "StoryWalk" events throughout Berkshire County along with story times at local libraries. StoryWalk™ is an initiative that combines a children's story with a popular walking route and connects families to their local business community. Pages of a book are displayed in store windows or inside buildings and children and their families walk through town reading the story. The StoryWalk program was introduced in 2007 in Montpelier, Vt., by Anne Ferguson.  The program was first replicated in Berkshire County by The Family Resource Center of Child Care of the Berkshires and continues to be offered regularly throughout the county.

Eight StoryWalk programs will be offered as part of Wee Read Berkshire County in the downtown areas of North Adams, Williamstown, Adams, Lenox and Great Barrington, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, at the Berkshire Athenaeum and at the Berkshire Mall.  In addition, with support from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's Central Berkshire Fund, StoryWalks will be offered at the Becket Washington School, Berkshire Trail Elementary School, Craneville School and Kittredge School. Also, in an effort to reach families that may not be able to make it to events, copies of "Duck on a Bike" will be mailed to local families in the Central Berkshire region. 

Collaborating organizations include the Berkshire Compact for Education, MCLA, Berkshire Athenaeum and the local libraries of Berkshire County, Child Care of the Berkshires, Berkshire County Head Start, Pittsfield's Wee Read, Community Health Programs Inc., the Berkshire United Way's Early Childhood Think Tank and Berkshire Children and Families.

Funding for Wee Read Berkshire County is being provided by the Central Berkshire Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, with additional support from MCLA, Child Care of the Berkshires and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.  In-kind staffing support has been provided by all of the collaborating organizations. 

The Berkshire Compact for Education was developed to address the higher education needs of Berkshire County residents and employers. The Compact focuses on educational success starting in early childhood and is comprised of members from key area employment sectors, including cultural institutions, finance, healthcare and specialty manufacturing, along with school superintendents, college administrators and faculty, municipal officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations.

For more information about Wee Read Berkshire County, contact Mary Nash, Berkshire Compact Project Coordinator (mary.nash@mcla.edu, 637-3955) or go to www.mcla.edu/compact.