Here Come the Bookleggers!
Volunteers Wanted: Just who are the Bookleggers? Ask any K-8 student in Fremont about the volunteers who enter the Fremont Unified School District classrooms and paint such intriguing descriptions of books that students feel compelled to read them. The Bookleggers are a group of volunteers dedicated to promoting independent reading by children. They do this by visiting classrooms, and introducing books that kids simply can't resist. Not just any books are used... these books that are chosen by the Booklegger Steering Committee are the gems, the best of the best, the well-written yet exciting adventures, suspenseful mysteries, hilarious comedies and eye-popping non-fiction.
Booklegger volunteers literally come from all over the globe, and from every background imaginable. They have in their ranks a pizza maker, an accountant, several retired teachers, librarians, an editor, a computer engineer, a dental hygienist, a BART engineer, an ex-KrazyGlue salesperson, moms, dads and grandparents. All have in common a great love of bringing books and children together.
Eight-week Training sessions are held twice a year to introduce new volunteers to booktalking, reading aloud, and storytelling skills. Upon completion of the training, Bookleggers are ready to enter the Fremont Unified School District classrooms to bring the joys of reading to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. While training is held at the Fremont Main Library, all branches in Fremont maintain special Booklegger collections where children can check out or reserve the books they've just heard about.
The gift of the love of reading is such an important one. Overwhelming statistics indicate that illiteracy is a great problem, not only in children but also in adults. The surest cure to adult illiteracy is to instill the love of books in the child, and that's where the Booklegger Project can make a difference. Booklegger books are checked out 3 times more frequently than those not booktalked - obviously the message is getting through!
Children in Fremont have elevated Bookleggers to near folk-heroine (and hero!) status, can point them out on the streets and can recount their booktalks to friend and parents. For more information about this award-winning program and to sign up for the next training session, call the Fremont Main Library Children's Desk at 510/745-1421, and ask for Karen Pacheco (Fremont Main Children's Services Supervisor).