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Coordinators of a new program at Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, First Book, hope to have children of all ages settling down with their very own new book.

In celebration of First Book’s arrival on campus, First Book campus advisory board members and Lafayette student volunteers will provide two new books to each child who participates in the Landis Center’s fourth annual Literacy Day, compliments of Scholastic Community Starter Books. The event will take place 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Marlo Room of Farinon College Center.

About 80 students and 40 or more volunteers are expected to attend. Activities will focus on The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, with a theme of tolerance and celebrating each individual’s uniqueness.

Of the 4,000 new books that Scholastic is donating to Lafayette’s campus advisory board, some will be distributed at the kickoff celebration, others will go to children in Landis Center programs like Kids in the Community, and the rest will find their way to other local organizations affiliated with the Landis Center.

Dan Ruch, chair of Lafayette’s First Book campus advisory board, team adviser of Kids in the Community, and an AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), says First Book is based on the correlation between a child’s reading scores and the number of books at home.

“The goal of First Book is that each child will receive a book per month for a whole year. This is how First Book enables children to build their own collections, and this is how it is able to make the impact that it has,” he says.

Since the national, nonprofit organization was formed in 1992, First Book’s yearly distribution to at-risk children has grown from 12,000 books in three communities to 15 million books nationwide. On a regional level, local and campus advisory boards identify a community’s need and provide books to children. The organization is able to aid so many children because anyone with connections to youth organizations may start an advisory board.

“When we heard about First Book in the Landis Center, it seemed like a perfect fit for us since we already have connections to several community partners that serve youth, and we have our own tutoring and mentoring programs,” says Ruch.

Ruch says the campus advisory board will recruit new members throughout the semester. Current members include Susan Bothwell ’05 (Warminster, Pa.), a neuroscience major; Matthew Grossman ’05 (Wayne, N.J.), an anthropology and sociology major; Barbara Smith, America Reads, America Counts coordinator; and Char Gray, director of the Landis Center.

The following local nonprofits and businesses have supported Literacy Day with monetary contributions: Family Connection; Laub, Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC; Lafayette Ambassador Bank; Easton Upholstery; Kressler, Wolff & Miller; Stone Capital Mortgage; Palmer Trophy & Awards; Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce; Emanuel Travel Service; and New Directions.

Those interested in becoming involved with First Book, receiving more information, receiving books, or making a donation can contact Ruch at (610) 330-5553 or

Categorized in: Students