THE BRONX — The city will provide 10 to 12 free books to 29,000 kindergarten through second grade students in 107 elementary schools in The Bronx and Brooklyn this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.
“Even though this is this greatest city in the world, we tolerated a reality where so few kids were on grade level reading by the end of second grade,” de Blasio said at Bedford Park Elementary School during a press conference Thursday.
“We need our kids to read. Some families have a lot of books around, some don’t. We want to even up the score.”
The new $1.4 million summer program is part of the city’s Universal Literacy program, which provides books and reading tutors during the school year to students in districts 9 and 10 in The Bronx and districts 17 and 32 in Brooklyn.
About 41 percent of students read at grade level, according to the mayor, and officials hope to have 100 percent at proficiency by 2026.
Kids will be able to read fiction and non-fiction books like "Curious George Visits the Library," "A Giraffe Can Laugh" and "Not a Lot, Robot!"
De Blasio read "Curious George at the Baseball Game" to about a dozen students at the school after the press conference.
The books will be delivered to the schools by June and there will be at fairs at the schools where students can choose from about 40 titles, officials said.
The literacy program will expand to all city school districts by the fall 2018 school year.
Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña said she hoped the program would make “summer reading to be reading for pleasure” and not feel like homework.
“It's about coming back in September and having something in common to discuss with kids in the whole class.”