Reading advocates put more books in the hands of kids | Education


A united effort to get more books in the hands of Rock Island-Milan and Moline-Coal Valley students is being fueled by synergy and rivalry.

The three initiatives are tied in promoting a love of reading.

The Moline-Coal Valley School District’s effort is called Read Moline. The Rock Island-Milan District’s initiative is called RockTown Reads. A third initiative, QC Reads, is an umbrella title that seeks to find ways to have both school districts and their respective foundations, the Moline Public Schools Foundation and the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation, work together.

Monta Ponsetto, executive director of the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation, said the different groups all have the same goal. There is something to be gained by working independently and cooperatively, she said.

“Both Read Moline and RockTown Reads are doing separate things and we’re feeding off each other now, ideas Moline has can be incorporated in Rock Island and vice versa” she said. “We’re working on different things — things that are more suited to the demographics of what our kids need and what their kids need.”

Jayne O’Brien, the Moline Public Schools Foundation executive director, said this is a first-time partnership between the two foundations. O’Brien said that, while varying needs can make partnerships hard to come by, everyone jumped on board without hesitation and started looking for ways to make it work.

In addition to the support of both education foundations and school districts, the initiatives’ partners include Kiwanis, Rotary, the Rock Island and Moline public libraries and the Bi-State Literacy Council.

Rocktown Reads and Read Moline also receive funding from Federal Title I, family/community engagement, funds. Additional RockTown Reads partners include the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Spring Forward Learning Center and WQPT.

Both education foundations have teamed with Hy-Vee, barbershops and salon locations to provide book baskets children can read on site or take home.

QC Read organizers also look to build on the longterm rivalry when Rock Island hsots Moline in football on Oct. 5. Game attendees will be asked to donate cash or new books for kids of all ages, with “score” updates announced during the game.

“We’re going to win on the field and off the field,” quipped O’Brien.

“We’ve got to beat them, and not just on the football field,” said Ponsetto.

Ponsetto said Rocky and Moline students will be posted at the gates to collect for Read Moline or RockTown Reads. She said hopes the updates will get fans to donate more.

“If Moline is getting behind, a Moline fan can put a dollar or two more in the bucket,” she said. “Those books donated will go to each of the communities and the cash proceeds will be turned into books that will be donated.”

Organizers plan to pursue the mission of developing a love for reading long after the game.

O’Brien said since Read Moline launched this summer it has developed a great community presence, including at community ice cream social events and Mercado on Fifth. She said Read Moline has been gathering kids together at the weekly market to read together on a big reading mat.

O’Brien said it has been a great opportunity to foster a love of reading among all ages and in a diverse way, as books are provided in English and Spanish and at multiple reading levels.

Other Read Moline initiatives include literacy activity plans at every elementary school on Sept. 20, the district’s open house night. Read Moline is also working to ensure every elementary classroom in the district has its own library.

“Kids get 30 minutes a week of library time, but that’s not enough,” O’Brien said. “Now every classroom will have a library.”

O’Brien said having books at home is an indicator for successful graduation. Research also shows kindergarten readiness and being able to read by third grade are also strong indicators for future success.

Rock Island-Milan assistant superintendent Kathy Ruggeberg said among other projects, RockTown Reads initiatives have included the installation of little lending libraries at all of the district’s elementary schools and a few other community locations. These take-a-book, leave-a-book stations were purchased and built by the Rock Island Rotary.

The website rocktownreads.com encourages visitors to share photos of themselves reading on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #RockTownReads. The site also lists RockTown Reads’ many community partners and their many literacy-driven activities as well as reading tips.

Ruggeberg said all district schools have been spreading information on RockTown Reads happenings in their newsletters and at family events and the district plans to hand out stickers and tattoos during the Rock Island Labor Day parade as well.

Ruggeberg said she applauded all of the reading-centric endeavors.

“What a great way to work together as a community to enhance and encourage the love of reading in our students and families,” she said.

For more information on the reading efforts, visit:





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