Oak Park student launches book drive for inner-city children

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By Community Editor

Courtesy Laura Kahan

Ariella Kahan-Harth, a seventh grader at Brooks Middle School, in Oak Park is collecting new and gently used children's books that will be donated to Edward K. Ellington School in Austin, where the majority of students are reading below grade-level. The book drive runs from April 7 through April 27.

"I am asking students and their parents to bring books that are enjoyable, fun reading for inner-city children ages five through thirteen," says Kahan-Harth , who is coordinating the collection for her Bat Mitzvah project. "I love to read more than anything and this is a great way to help other kids improve their reading skills."

Book Worm Angels, a not-for-profit organization, is the force behind this and other book drives conducted throughout the year, primarily in Chicago's suburbs. The mission of Book Worm Angels is to put lending libraries in each classroom in Chicago elementary schools where so many children are reading below grade level. Principals, teachers, and parents are encouraged to present these books as fun reading, not school work. There are no penalties for lost or damaged books.

"We believe that kids who read will succeed," says Kermit Myers, a retired businessman who founded Book Worm Angels in 1999. "Many of the participating schools are convinced that our program has improved reading scores, which probably also improves performance in other subjects."

Myers says that more than 192,000 at-risk children now can borrow books right in their classrooms. Over 2,100,000 books have been collected to date and put into 207 inner city schools.

"We have a continual need for more books to replenish the libraries and to start programs in other schools where so many students read below grade level."

Kahan-Harth says anyone with children's books in good condition can bring them to –Brooks Middle School, Whittier Elementary School, West Suburban Temple Har Zion, The Book Table, or Magic Tree Bookstore from April 7-27. For more information about Book Worm Angels, visit www.bookwormangels.org, or call 773-332-8091.

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