PRESS RELEASE

West Philadelphia Alliance for Children encourages reading at home this summer by introducing over 1,000 students to a pig named Mercy.

PHILADELPHIA, May 22, 2017 – A local nonprofit is gifting books this May and early June to over a thousand third graders, encouraging reading over the upcoming summer break – and beyond. West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) announced today that it has been busy at work, giving away reading motivation kits to all of the third graders in its programs – including the book Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Philadelphia-born and Newbery Award winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo.

The hope is that this book, alongside a reading “swag bag” – stuffed with bookmarks, pencils, motivational stickers and more – will keep these students reading this summer as well as add to, or start, their own home libraries.

“The ‘summer slide’ is real when it comes to reading. We want students to start getting excited now about what they want to read this summer,” said Rachel Robinson, WePAC Library and Literacy Program Manager. “These reading motivation kits have already put smiles on many faces!” The term summer slide refers to regression in reading skills when students are out of school during the summer months.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue is a whimsical chapter book, first in a series about a fictional pig – a “porcine wonder” – who acts like a member of the family and absolutely loves to eat buttered toast. The book’s distribution was made possible by a grant from Team First Book Philadelphia.

WePAC operates library programming in 14 Philadelphia public schools, most in West Philadelphia. Their goal for this giveaway is to keep reading on the list of plans for students this summer – and they think Mercy the pig can help do that.

“Third grade is such a critical and transitional year for our students,” commented Heather Farber, WePAC Executive Director. “We are thrilled to be able to provide these kits as a boost to sustain reading motivation.” WePAC is a partner of Read by 4th, a citywide coalition managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia focused on getting Philadelphia schoolchildren at grade level for reading by 4th grade.

The swag bags were assembled by teams of volunteers during an MLK Day of Service hosted by WePAC earlier in 2017.

WePAC (www.wepac.org) is dedicated to bringing the joy of reading back to schools by operating volunteer-run school library programs. It is the only organization in Philadelphia working systematically to re-open closed libraries and bring library programming back to schools. This school year WePAC’s team of dedicated volunteers – about 150 strong – have operated library programming in Anderson, Blankenburg, Cassidy, Cook Wissahickon, Global Leadership Academies West and South West, Gompers, Hamilton, Heston, Lea, Longstreth, McMichael, Powel, and Rhoads schools.

For more information, contact: Heather Farber, WePAC Executive Director  ■  heather@wepac.org

PHOTOS: Students at Rudolph Blankenburg School dig right into Mercy Watson to the Rescue after receiving their reading motivation kits in May.