Book and Blanket program Launches

Joseph E. Robach

January 04, 2010

January 1, 2010

Book and Blanket program tries to get students wrapped up in reading

Nestor Ramos
Staff writer

Before one of the least attentive audiences of his career, state Sen. Joe Robach recently sat down and started to read Froggy Goes to School.

Meanwhile, a classroom full of School 36 kindergarteners looked through their own new books and wrapped themselves in brand new blankets — gifts from the Rochester Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to support school district children.

"Reading is the key that opens all the doors to you," Robach told the children during the REF Book and a Blanket event that also had County Executive Maggie Brooks and Jean Howard, Mayor Robert Duffy's chief of staff, reading to students at the school in December.

"I've been on enough school visits (to children's homes) where there's just a mattress on the floor," said school parent liaison Sue Buehner. "You don't know how great this is."

The Book and a Blanket program came to 10 district elementary schools in 2009, said REF Executive Director Patricia Braus. The organization has added programs in recent years, and is preparing for its second Teachers' Choice book giveaway this spring.

That program gave away about 2,800 books near year's end to teachers, librarians and nonprofits who applied. Those books also end up going home with students, Braus said, to help them build home libraries — an educational tool that not all families have.