JetBlue’s ‘Soar With Reading’ Program Successful in Detroit; Next Stop: Fort Lauderdale
Lifestyle| | By Matthew D'Onofrio
This summer, JetBlue provided books to children in need in Detroit, MI and will embark to Fort Lauderdale, FL next summer for continued success.
The Soar with Reading program, launched in 2011, brings vending machines filled with free books to areas in the U.S. that are lacking, known as “book deserts.” JetBlue and its partners aim to encourage imagination and continued reading during summer break when reading resources for children are not readily available.
Five book vending machines were placed in locations around Detroit, including the Matrix Human Services where Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond made a surprise appearance.
“Everybody knows the sport I play in is something that can be taken away from you at any time, but having an education, having knowledge, is something nobody can take away from you,” said Drummond in a speech highlighting the significance of reading.
JetBlue found some areas in Detroit had only one book per every 42 children.
“It gives you vocabulary and stuff,” 10-year-old Ciera Stone told ABC News. “I know a lot, but sometimes I’m not very good at reading…but ever since I started getting these books from the machine at the Matrix Center it started helping me get my words back up.”
Stone formed a book club with her friends to read together and help each other when needed.
According to a report by New York University research fellows Susan Neuman and Naomi Moland, children who find themselves in book deserts could fall behind in language, vocabulary and comprehension, which jeopardizes their academic progress in comparison to peers who have access to books.
Before visiting Detroit, the program gave out 27,000 books in vending machines last summer and landed in the Anacostia part of the Washington, D.C., area where there was only one single book for every 830 children. The book drought there was quenched by an additional 70,000 books distributed through community partners throughout the summer.
Next summer, the program’s destination will be Fort Lauderdale, FL, which won the #BookBattle competition – an online voting competition where the public decides which area should receive 100,000 new children’s books.