Holyoke – A City That Reads
In 2019, to promote literacy in the City of Holyoke and especially in the neighborhoods that are in greatest need and our primary focus (Flats, Downtown, Churchill, and South Holyoke)., we are launching a social media and event campaign – Holyoke – A City That Reads.
We want to model the value of reading by city leaders, community influencers, and residents of all types and descriptions who read for pleasure, professional advancement, and personal growth. We especially hoe to identify young readers. Holyoke has a profound early literacy crisis, best revealed by the chronically low third grade reading data of city students. This campaign seeks to partially address the issue – not by insulting the community with a barrage of warnings about the harm wrought by these outcomes – but by positively highlighting the activities of the thousands of committed readers who are very much a part of our community.
The most visible lynchpin of this project will be identifying 52 city residents who will agree to be photographed with a book they are currently reading or have a special connection to. Dennis Marrerro will capture a portrait of each person with the book, and a short essay about the person and the book will be posted with the photo. This will be modelled on a 2013 project a Holyoke photographer created called I am Holyoke. For reference see photos here.
In addition, we will continue other literacy focused activities we have engaged in in recent years – our practice of gifting books to the children of our tenants on the children’s birthdays, as well as arranging no cost family visits to the Eric Carle Museum & the Dr. Seuss Museum.
We partner with community organizations and the Holyoke High School each year to bring a literary work read in class to the Holyoke High School Auditorium. This year, the play will be the Crucible, the Arthur Miller classic about the Salem Witch Trials. We will fold this into the Holyoke – A City That Reads campaign in 2019.
We will explore launching other reading ventures. For example, we are looking into creating a sponsored book club on titles of interest to Holyoke residents.
At our Annual Meeting in December of 2019, we will select from the participants of the Holyoke – A City That Reads campaign an exemplary voice, and recognize him or her as a Holyoke Champion of Literacy.
Finally, we want to engage participant in continuing efforts in 2020.