Children’s Book Drive Returns To Chatham, Harwich

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: Chatham , Harwich

Various children’s books are available at Yellow Umbrella Books. COURTESY PHOTO

CHATHAM – For a second consecutive year, the Monomoy Early Childhood Council is hosting a book drive for Chatham and Harwich children throughout the months of May and June.

Last year’s inaugural book drive resulted in more than 700 new books being purchased and donated. The Monomoy Early Childhood Family Resource Center at Harwich Elementary School will distribute the books to children identified in collaboration with the Monomoy elementary school guidance counselors and teachers, the Harwich Children’s Fund, Chatham Children’s Fund, Cape Cod Family Pantry, Hand of Hope Food Pantry and the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program.

“The goal of our book drive is to put books into the hands of families who do not have the resources to purchase new books for their children, while emphasizing the positive outcomes reading aloud has on early childhood brain development and a child's future academic success,” said Monomoy Family Resource Coordinator Lucy Gilmore. “Many are surprised to learn about the number of families who are economically disadvantaged on Cape Cod; for example, before COVID, 40 percent of Chatham Elementary students qualified for free or reduced lunch — that number has most likely increased in the past two years.”

Gilmore noted that studies show that children who read aloud with their families have richer vocabularies, more vivid imaginations and familiarity and comfort with printed words. Those qualities help children become lifelong readers and learners.

“Harwich Elementary School students only have one homework assignment: read for 30 minutes every day,” Gilmore said. “As summer vacation approaches, we hope families will maintain the habit of reading often and every day.”

Gilmore said this year’s book drive includes a list of recommended books for shoppers to purchase. Among the books included are Spanish and Portuguese titles and other storylines that address various issues.

“Recommended books represent diverse cultures and families and address social and emotional issues such as separation anxiety that the past two years growing up in a pandemic have created,” Gilmore said.

The book drive is open to anyone and is taking place at four local bookstores: Yellow Umbrella Books (501 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-0144), Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore (432 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-0499), Reed Books (537 Main St., Harwich Port; 508-432-5293) and Below the Brine Bookstore (554 Main St., Harwich Port; 774-209-3493).

Those interested in participating in the book drive can visit one of the four book stores and purchase a book order from the curated “wish list” or a book of their choice. People can also call the bookstores and purchase a book with a credit card.

Every participant will receive a prize ticket and become eligible to win a prize, including a one-night off-season stay for two people at Chatham Bars Inn, lunch for four at the Outer Bar and Grille at the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, a $100 gift certificate to one of the four participating bookstores or a large bag of penny candy from Chatham Candy Manor.

Prize winners will be announced June 30 at the Chatham Anglers’ home game against Yarmouth-Dennis. Prize winners who aren’t present will be contacted by phone, and prizes can be mailed anywhere in the US.

In addition to the book drive, Gilmore noted that the Monomoy Early Childhood Family Resource Center, a satellite of the Cape Cod Children's Place, is there for the community beyond the book drive.

“[The center] provides concrete support such as diapers and gently used clothing as well as referrals for families in need of licensed early education and care for their children, early childhood developmental screening, free playgroups and parent education programming and more,” Gilmore said. “It is wonderful to be able to include a book and a read-aloud tip sheet for each family who seeks our services.”

Volunteers are needed on Saturdays to help promote the book drive. Contact Lucy Gilmore via phone 508-430-7216 x4044 or email with questions.


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Twitter: @BradJoyal