More than 20,000 free books given to City families and educators

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A national campaign called “Reading Opens The World” handed out 20,000 free books in Rochester Saturday afternoon. Books were stacked on tables inside Abraham Lincoln School No. 22. The campaign is fronted by the American Federation of Teachers.

Stories of all types, were in the hands of any kid who wanted one, like Rochester Prep student Amayalise Johnson. Like a natural book worm she had bags filled of books she was ready to feast her mind on.

“I love reading books like fantasies and stuff, because I love to read books at my house. They [books] have a lot of words in them that you have to learn about,” she told us.

Also at the event was Governor Kathy Hochul. She walked around with students looking at books and sharing the importance of reading.

“Combined with great schools, combined with books, and parents who care can put them on a path so they can get those jobs we’re creating here in upstate New York, the governor said.  

Members from the American Federation of Teachers say the books were a mix of fiction, non-fiction, diversity, inclusion, and content that kids can relate too.

“How can we get kids back to the joy of reading? When a teacher reads a book in the classroom they communicate, they bond, they have questions, critical thinking skills, that’s what it’s all about,” Evelyn Dejesus said, a member of the federation.

As for Amayalise, she has a message for other kids about turning the page.

“Try to read a book with pictures in it, and then start going from pictures, to little kid books, to chapters, and then up and up.”

The American Federation of Teachers say the goal is to give away 1 million books by the end of the year. So far, they’ve been able to give 875,000 away, and that’s across 150 sites nationwide.