BOOK DRIVE: Enjoying the successful Panara “Knead 2 Read??? book drive are: from left, Panera Bread Owner Sue Stees; Resonance Executive Director Penny Painters; Panera Bread Owner Dr. Tom Stees and Oklahoma Center for Poets & Writers Founder and “Writing Out Loud??? Executive Producer and Host Teresa Miller.
Panera Bread’s 2005 effort to encourage and celebrate literacy in Oklahoma brought in a record 12,252 children’s books in one day, nearly twice the 6,657 collected in 2004. The largest donor was Elliot Elementary School. Second-grade teacher Debby Simpson for the second year led a school-wide effort to support “Knead 2 Read.”
Additional assistance was provided by Union High School Student Council Director Darin Thompson, Arts Society Intern and TU Senior Katie Feiock, Tulsa PTA President James Stewart and Gayle Wallace.
Last year collected books were given to The Parent Child Center of Tulsa. All donated books during 2005’s drive were given to Resonance for “Mother Read,” a new partnership initiative with Junior League. The drive succeeded in launching the program created a year earlier but temporarily stalled due to a shortage of books.
Until just recently Oklahoma had the highest female incarceration rate of any state in the country, leaving many children motherless. Through “Mother Read,” children of incarcerated mothers will receive not only the books but also a tape recording of the mother reading the book aloud. The goal is to maintain critical family bonds during the mother’s incarceration.
Another benefit of the “Mother Read” program, according to Resonance Executive Director Penny Painter, is earlier detection of illiteracy rates among the female inmates. The process of having mothers read for the recordings will provide a means of identifying and addressing illiteracy rates during incarceration, allowing such concerns to be addressed before the women return to the local work force.
“This year the students and teachers joined individuals in making Knead 2 Read a huge, over-the-top success,” says Panera Bread Co-owner Sue Stees. “In 2006 our goal is to reach book club members and challenge businesses to break the 2005 record.”
Individuals and groups donating books to “Knead 2 Read” receive gift certificates from Panera Bread for bagels. For information on 2006 “Knead 2 Read,” contact Tracey Norvell at 918.447.9643.