ESL Jefferson Award winner Tam Spitzer is providing a gateway to a lifetime of learning

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FARMINGTON, N.Y. – “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go,” said Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

And there’s a woman who aims to make sure children across Ontario county have the chance to go as far as their dreams will take them because her mission is to make sure every child has a book. Her name is Tam Spitzer,a 2023 Jefferson Award winner.

From floor to ceiling, boxes of books have been carefully collected and catalogued by the nonprofit Budding Readers.

“We do bundles of books up to 36 months of age in eight Ontario County school districts,” she said.

Those bundles go to parents of children ages 3 and younger at no cost.

It’s the brainchild of one woman.

“She was a teacher in Bloomfield and she wanted to give new parents a bundle of books and all they need to create a reader,” Spitzer explains.

That Bloomfield teacher asked Spitzer to join the board: a request she welcomed. After all, she, too, was an educator – a psychology professor at St. John Fisher University – for more than three decades.

“My specialty field in psychology was child development,” she says.

Making her the perfect person to join Budding Readers. She took over the organization in 2011 and since then has expanded its reach.

“We’ve partnered with several other agencies to provide books as part of their program,” she says.

Those agencies include Family Promise, that helps the homeless; Health Families which supports families at risk; Saint’s Place, a lifeline for recent immigrants; and even Attica Correctional Facility.

“Apparently, there was absolutely nothing in the waiting room for children,” Spitzer says.

But now there is. These are more than baby books. They’re the gateway to a lifetime of learning: a gateway so many children lack.

“We have a good number of teachers on our board – retired teachers, and some that taught kindergarten and preschool – and they’ll tell me about kids who come to school and they don’t know which way a book works,” Spitzer says.

She is determined to change that, assuring every child during that crucial period of brain development, from infancy to age 3, is able to coo in the comfort of a parent’s arms as they soft ask, “Guess how much I love you?”

Deanna Dewberry, News10NBC: “This though would not happen without someone who is directing it – who’s keeping the trains on track.”

Tam Spitzer, Budding Readers: “Yes, I’m the conductor.”

Conducting an operation that has given away 78,000 books over the last dozen years.

If you’d like to donate or volunteer, you can learn more about the information by clicking here.