Reading, PA – Women2Women inaugurated a Summer Youth Reading Program as an outgrowth of their annual Expo which featured Katharine Johnson – one of four African-American women behind the book, Hidden Figures, who served as one of the NASA brains launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit. “A generous community leader provided a good portion of the funds, along with dozens of donations, including one from GRCEDC president & CEO Randy Peer’s 12-year-old daughter, for Women2Women to buy 700 Young Readers’ Editions of Hidden Figures. It really was a community effort!” shared Chamber president Karen Marsdale. Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition is the true story of four brilliant women at NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Christine Darden. The book highlights their intelligence, sisterhood, and perseverance, as well as the racial and gender discrimination which affected their lives.
A committee of active Women2Women volunteers reached out to contacts at organizations that have summer programs throughout the City of Reading and Berks County and distributed 700 books to the Reading Public Libraries, Mentors for Berks Youth, Norma De Hoyos Day Care, Olivet Boys & Girls Club, Reading Public Museum STEM camp, Reading Recreation Commission, Salvation Army and YMCA. Not only did the volunteers facilitate the distribution but they took it one step further by providing the organizations a fact sheet, outline, discussion guide questions, social media plan to promote their group’s progress and a survey for youth to participate.
A participate in the program, Ted Tressler, Cpt. , Corps Officer/Pastor – The Salvation Army shared, “Our summer day camp students have been immensely blessed with the opportunity, made available with help from the Chamber and W2W, to read and discuss “Hidden Figures” which is an amazing, true story that can serve to encourage these young people to achieve amazing things in their own lives.”
The goal for the summer reading program was to encourage the love of reading and help prevent the “summer slide” of learning. Each child who participated in the reading program received his or her own copy of the book to keep. Volunteers read with the children in reading groups, and then held discussion sessions to engage young readers around topics of air and space travel, science and mathematics, and gender/race equality.