Wake Up and Read literacy effort seeks thousands of books


The granddaughter is 8 months old and living a beautiful and beautiful life. Each day is filled with adventures (like rediscovering her toes) and a sweet chorus of squeals and gurgles.

She is a happy child for many reasons.

Great parents with a healthcare background and a love for baby-tech monitoring gadgets.

Good routines, from naps to feedings.

And a whole bunch of toys.

Sally the doll is her best friend. But so does “Baby Sloth,” a nap book that features the cutest finger puppet.

Anyone who reads “Baby Sloth” and plays with the fur-like puppet becomes his instant friend. Reading, even for an 8 month old, is better than wiggling your toes.

But we know it. And we know that not every child, especially in the Triangle, has a book that can serve as a cool friend.

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Bill Church, editor of The News and observer Scott Sharpe [email protected]

wake up and read

Lori Krzeszewski was a kindergarten teacher for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools when she realized the importance of putting books in children’s hands. She decided to focus on children’s education and literacy, earned a doctorate, and is now a trustee of WAKE Up and Read, a community coalition that is part of the National Campaign for Reading in Schools.

It is an impressive coalition of education, business and community champions focused on school readiness, supporting families and maintaining high quality learning environments.

These community champions include people like Richard Averitte, a North Carolina native and vice president of marketing who has embraced literacy among a host of human rights causes. He has participated in WAKE Up and Read’s annual book drive since 2015, using his marketing creativity to spread the word about the connection of books with children.

Richard comes naturally to this cause. Her father was a high school science teacher. Her mother was a school librarian.

Richard remembers his mother making a deal with him in the summer of 1983. “The Dark Knight Returns” miniseries was out and he wanted it. His mother agreed to buy the series if he read three books of her choice. His picks included “Black Boy,” Richard Wright’s famous memoir of an author growing up in the South.

“I was lucky to grow up in a house with books and resources. Also, my parents encouraged me to read anything and everything,” says Richard.

Reading Batman and “Black Boy” may have spurred Richard’s activism. Kindergarten students inspired Dr. Krzeszewski to make literacy her giving cause.

Thousands of books donated in previous year as part of WAKE Up and Read book drive. Jonathan M. Alexander [email protected]

Make the kids and yourself happy

Whatever the reason, giving has been the Triangle’s best kept secret each February. The WAKE Up and Read coalition collected 188,000 new and lightly used books last year. They used a network of schools, daycares and coalition partners to distribute most of these books to create 20,000 home libraries for children.

By the end of February, their ninth annual campaign will cross the one million donation mark. It’s a million enjoyable ways to make a difference.

Give because it will make you happy.

Kids don’t care if it’s “The Cat in the Hat” or a baby sloth learning to nap.

What is important is to build a community of young readers living in a safe and loving environment.

Especially those who are still in the screaming and gurgling stage of their lives.

How you can help

For more information on how you can contribute, go to wakeupandread.org/book-drive-2022/

Bill Church is editor of The News & Observer and the Herald-Sun.


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