Katelyn Tower (left), a clinical supervisor at our Park Street Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic in West Springfield, and Silkia Gonzalez, an administrative assistant at the clinic, are pictured showing off some free books for visitors in the clinic’s waiting room.
Maria Maloney, a clinical supervisor at Park Street, recently started this literacy initiative in her building with donations received from the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst.
“Literacy is a crucial issue in Massachusetts, with only 47 percent of fourth-graders reading proficiently statewide,” said Maloney. “We have created lots of reading opportunities for children, teens, and adults in our waiting room, with books and magazines for a variety of age levels, Signs are up that see “Free Books,” and people are taking them or reading them when they come in.”
Maloney pointed out that having books in the home is proven to positively benefit children in a myriad of ways. “A two-decade long study found that the mere presence of a home library increases children’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention and job attainment,” she said, pointing to a landmark study by Dr. Joanna Sikora of Australian National University, which found that adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies.
“My hope is that this literacy project in our clinic will get books into the hands of the people we serve and their families, who may not have the financial resources to have a home library, ” said Maloney. I hope this will also increase children’s opportunities to have bonding time with their parents and caregivers while learning.”
If anyone would like to donate new or gently used books to the literacy project, they are welcome to email Maloney at [email protected].