To promote literacy and reading for young people, former New York Knicks player John Starks read to a crowded room of children at the North Bergen library on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
In support of the program “Read To Achieve,” Cablevision Vice President of Education Trent Anderson attended along with library board members President Barbara Habermann, Vice-President George Bartulovich, Treasurer Claudia Rodriguez, and Library Director Sai Rao.
Public officials including Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto also read to the kids.
Sacco’s office helped to coordinate the event.
“You are all our MVP’s, most valuable patrons,” Rao told the children.
A group of young children called the Signing All Stars also attended the event, performing “God Bless America” in sign language.
Power to Learn
Cablevision and Power to Learn have collaborated to create reading programs such as “Read to Achieve.” The event is sponsored by Kia Motors and organizes role models like John Starks to go to several libraries to reinforce the importance of reading to young people. This is the sixth year that Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks have worked together with Cablevision and the Power to Learn reading programs.
Anderson’s introduction urged the children to go to www.powertolearn.com and answer questions about reading.
He read the book, “I Can Make a Difference” by civil rights pioneer Marion Wright Edelman with illustrations by Barry Moser. He mentioned that many of the books at the library have quizzes associated with them.
“I’m so happy that they make events like this. It was so much fun!” – Emilio Landa, 11
Reading making a difference
It’s often overlooked how crucial reading is for children.
“Reading is so important in the summer because kids can lose a half grade level in their reading progress if they don’t read over the summer,” said Anderson. “It’s really important from one school year to the next to keep reading. We try to create fun opportunities to engage kids. It’s not just about reading, it’s about understanding what you read.”
“It reinforces the fact that reading is essential for success in every path of life,” said Rao. “Children are motivated when they hear from their role models and celebrities. Cablevision’s initiative to promote reading is commendable.”
Four children – Julianna, Abraham, Alejandro and Ethan – were asked to come up and read with Starks, who helped them along. To make sure the kids were following along, a projector displayed the pages that were being read. The kids also completed a quiz for prizes.
Kids speak out
The children got to meet Starks while he was autographing basketballs, shirts, postcards, and books.
“I got to read [part] of the story out-loud in front of everyone,” said Ethan Gonzalez, 8. “John Starks picked me to read and I was happy.”
“I liked when John Starks signed autographs [and]...when he read us stories,” said Victoria Vence, 8. “That means a lot to me. I look up to him for that.”
“I like coming to this library,” said Emilio Landa, 11. “I’m so happy that they make events like this. It was so much fun!”
“The children have dedicated themselves to the library’s summer programs,” said Children’s Librarian Krista Welz. “It was rewarding to see their smiles and excitement when they saw John Starks. Many of them came in [the next day] wearing their autographed t-shirts. They love the library, and we love having them here.”
“Though large in size, North Bergen is a close knit community,” said Business Manager Tracey Rivera. “With the backing and support of Mayor Nicholas J. Sacco, the Library Board of Trustees and Library Director Sai Rao, we were able to bring the community together once again in support of a cause that is all near and dear to our hearts.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at email@example.com