It’s never too early to help children develop a love of books. The Mercer County Workforce Development Board (WDB), in conjunction with Child Care Connection, kicked off the 10th annual Early Mercer Reads event April 13 by hosting a dozen young students from Kids R First Preschool-South in Trenton, who were treated to a reading of Divya Srinivasan’s “Little Owl’s Night” by Beverly Mills, former WDB director and Early Mercer Reads creator.
Early Mercer Reads involves a book drive and reading event where guest readers read their favorite childhood story books aloud to eager preschool audiences at local child care centers. This year’s Early Mercer Reads Day featured close to 60 volunteer readers from government, local agencies, business, and the community at large who visited 28 child care centers throughout the County. More than 200 books were collected and distributed to the participating centers.
“The goal of Early Mercer Reads is to encourage children to read on a daily basis, to instill in them a lifelong love of books, to increase individual achievement, and improve their overall quality of life,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, adding that 137 child care centers have participated in Early Mercer Reads and more than 15,000 children have been read to.
Among those attending the kickoff at the County Administration Building were Virgen Velez, acting WDB director; James Purcell, WDB chair; Peg Gould, WDB Literacy Committee chair; Anthony Carabelli Jr., acting director, Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability; and Nancy Thomson, executive director, Child Care Connection, who has been involved in Early Mercer Reads since its inception as part of the WDB Literacy Committee. Businesses that have participated in Early Mercer Reads for at least nine of the 10 years are Bristol-Myers Squibb, Educational Testing Service, Horizon and Shiseido.