City of Malden Reads in Unity

Jessica DePaula For the second year running, Malden’s citywide reading program, Malden Reads, is bringing students of all ages and reading levels together. The main goals of the program, as stated on its official website are, “to encourage reading, promote the library, but most of all, build community.” Malden Reads Week was celebrated the first week of February this year. Students of all ages participated in activities, like the first grade class taught by Meaghann McCarthy at the Beebe school. With the help of the school librarian, Barbara Kennedy, her class read and worked with the books“Yoko,” by Rosemary Wells, and “The Name Jar,” by Yangsook Choi, two of the books targeted towards children in preschool through second grade by the program. The students reacted with enthusiasm to both books, and seemed to connect with the idea of cultural acceptance presented in “The Name Jar”. “It’s about a girl who was Korean, and she goes to America, and she wants an American name because everybody has American names except for her”, explains one of McCarthy’s students, seven-year-old Savannah Harr. “And the other kids couldn’t say her name right.” In the book, the main character, Unhei, decides that she wants to change her name, and her new classmates help by putting their own suggestions into a name jar. One of her classmates, however, finds out her Korean name, and the names special meaning, and when she sees the support from her new friends, Unhei decides to keep using her real name. “I think it’s bad that she wanted to change her name, because when I heard her real name meant grace I thought it was pretty.” stated Harr. Savannah stated that she did enjoy reading “The Name Jar” with her class; however, she preferred “Yoko.” Both books deal with themes of bullying, racial diversity, and the importance of self-acceptance, ideas that Malden Reads specifically wishes to address with this years’ selections. “Reading, to me, is so important, because it's like your own superpower you can harness,” stated Jodie Zalk, co-facilitator of Malden Reads. “The more you read, the better you get at it and the more you read, the more doors you unlock to new worlds, new people, and new experiences.” (I’m getting quotes from Ms McCarthy too, she will probably email me back tonight.)

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