The GEEARS Mayor’s Summer Reading Club Wraps Up Its 10th Season

By: GEEARS for Saporta Report

We came, we read, and we gave away a lot of books at a lot of enriching programs. The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club’s tenth season ended last month. Let us count the ways the bookish summer thrilled us: 

  • We returned to many in-person events after two virtual summers. And we returned in force, with more than 200 events produced by 83 partners, gifting Atlanta kids with 14,158 books. (The Alliance Theatre will distribute 3,000 books over the next year, as well.) The first of these events was a joyful launch in the newly renovated Fulton County Central Library. Mayor Andre Dickens read, to a kid-packed audience, both of this summer’s MSRC books. The first was Atlanta, My Home, written for children ages three to five by Breanna J. McDaniel and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It was produced by the Alliance Theatre and funded by PNC. And for babies zero to two, Mayor Dickens read I’ll Build You a Bookcase, by Jean Ciborowski Fahey and Simone Shin. 
  • Other stars shared stories as well. In June, quarterback Matt Ryan read Atlanta, My Home to a group of knee-high fans in Falcons jerseys at the opening of the Simpson Street Learning Space. CBS46 Chief Meteorologist Jennifer Valdez, along with Mayor Dickens and other local luminaries, participated in a celebration of reading at The Mall, West End. 
  • Volunteers with the Atlanta Rotary Club fanned out to child care centers around the city to read MSRC books to toddlers as part of their day of service on June 6th
  • On July 29th, our volunteers were proud to partner with Lift Up Atlanta to host a Free Laundry and Literacy Day at five metro Atlanta laundromats. We were able to share books with the hundreds of children who attended with their families.
  • All 33 branches of the Fulton County Library System staged MSRC events. 

All summer long, we could tell that MSRC books were about more than helping young children fight the summer slide. They also bonded us as a community

“I think the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club ties the city together, much like our One Book, One Read program,” says MSRC partner Marcia Divack, branch group administrator and youth services coordinator at the Fulton County Library System. “It creates a sense of community and belonging when everybody’s reading the same titles in June and July.”

Another community builder is, of course, the City of Atlanta and Mayor Dickens, who showed their commitment to the MSRC throughout the summer. 

As Fefe Handy, Founder and Executive Director of Page Turners Make Great Learners, put it, “I think this program is successful because it’s the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club. It compels the community to be involved, and it compels our corporate community partners and civic leaders to be involved in this mission of really building a city that reads.”

Plans are already coming together for next summer’s MSRC commission from the Alliance Theatre. Partner, Quanda Smith, says this is one of the things she finds meaningful about the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club. Atlantans can depend upon new books and new programs year after year. 

“Society has taught us how much changes, but people pay attention to consistency,” notes Smith, who is the volunteer coordinator for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance’s environmental stewardship department. This past summer, she designed an entire roster of MSRC-themed programming for the children who attended WAWA’s summer camp. “The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club is consistent with building literacy and connecting through these books. And all the mayors have participated! That’s a touch point for the community.”

The GEEARS team is excited to continue the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club for years to come. 

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