Harlem and Bronx Students Celebrate Reading 1 Million Books

By Gidon Belmaker
Gidon Belmaker
Gidon Belmaker
Gidon Belmaker is a former reporter and social media editor with The Epoch Times.
February 16, 2011 Updated: February 16, 2011

NEW YORK—Children in the electronic age seldom read. This statement, which may be considered common knowledge by some, might not always be true. At least not for the students of the Success Academies, who celebrated having read 1,000,000 books on Wednesday.

Since 2006, students of kindergarten through fifth grade from the seven Success Academies of the Success Charter Network, read and logged over 1,000,000 books. The Children read the books at home or by themselves. Additional reading in the classroom was not logged.

“If there is one thing that is more important [than other subjects learned], it is reading,” explained Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Success Charter Network, to the students in the humble ceremony marking their achievement. “If you can read, you can teach yourself anything,” she added.

Ten students who excelled in reading went up to the stage to receive special diplomas and three fifth-graders read essays on their favorite books. Fifth-grader Dianne Cooper recommends “Star Girl,” by Jerry Spinelli. “It inspired me to be myself,” she said, "It will change you and you will be better.”

When Moskowitz talks about reading, her eyes shine. “We have a culture here where there is a passion for reading,” she said.

This culture is achieved by special programs exposing students to a wide variety of books and letting them choose what they like. Additionally, parents sign a contract obligating them to be involved in the educational process and especially in reading.

Parents are required to read together with their children six days a week. Parents who do not speak English are encouraged to listen to audio-books with their children. “Books are a religion to us,” said Moskowitz.

In addition to reading, emphasis is placed on science, which is studied five days a week, chess, which is studied two times a week, and art.

“Our goal is college graduation. We want our kids to feel that going to college and graduating is as natural as breathing,” said Moskowitz.

Emphasis on reading is by no means at the expense of technology. Fifth-graders read their books on Kindles, provided by the schools.

Gidon Belmaker
Gidon Belmaker
Gidon Belmaker is a former reporter and social media editor with The Epoch Times.