Building Growing Readers

  • Logo for Growing Readers program In 2018, the Growing Readers book project, spearheaded by the Grand Island Central School district, has given 280 books to babies ages two months to 24 months. Through the initiative, babies will receive a brand new book each time they have a well visit, up to 24 months, at Grand Island Pediatricians.

    The goal of the program is to give babies and their parents a head start on reading together and building a bond through books.


    The Grand Island Central School District earned the 2019 Hodgson Russ Excellence in Collaboration Award from the Erie County Association of School Boards for its Growing Readers project.


    “Books are truly magic and sharing them with young children makes them readers for life,” said Maureen Roussi, a prekindergarten teacher and member of the committee. “What we are hoping to accomplish with our Growing Readers endeavor is to provide parents and children with excellent books so that they are able to sit together, laugh together, read together and talk together about books.”

    The idea, based on a similar project done in West Seneca, has wide support from the organizing committee that has representatives from the school district, librarians and community groups all raising money through fundraisers and donations to purchase the books.

    Through the program, a baby will get its first book at a two month visit. Pediatric well visits at six months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months will also include a new book for the baby, as well as a library application and a milestone language sheet that outlines voice, speech and language milestones that babies should reach within their first two years of life.

    The committee has chosen board books written by Sandra Boynton, including A-Z, Doggies, Opposites, Horns to Toes, Blue Hat Green Hat, Moo Baa La La La,The Going to Bed Book and But Not the Hippopotamus. At two months of age, the Tana Hoban book Black & White is given.

    “Reading with your child creates cherished memories of spending quality time with each other,” said Sue Bognar, retired Grand Island Central School District speech language pathologist. “When reading books, you and your child are engaged in learning about the world together. These special moments during early childhood develop into deep bonds between parent and child.”

    The organizing committee includes Cheryl Cardone, director of pupil personnel services; Brian Graham, superintendent of schools and a member of the Grand Island Rotary Club; Sue Bogner, retired speech therapist; Bridgette Heintz, town of Grand Island Library Director; Kathryn Quigley, GI Pediatrics; Denise Dunbar, Charlotte Sidway Elementary principal; Maureen Roussi, prekindergarten teacher and Grand Island Teachers Association representative; Stephanie Pritchard, William Kaegebein librarian; Amy Boutet, community education coordinator and work based learning coordinator; Alicia Szyprowski,GICSD reading teacher; Linda Lichtenthal, School Related Professionals representative; Mary Cooke, Friends of the Library; Lisa Pyc, GICSD Board of Education; Beth Boron, Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island; Dan Flaim, Grand Island Rotary Club.