Archbishop Borders School students now have a new space to enjoy reading books, and it’s not a school library.
Thanks to a grant from Bank of America and the Ben Carson Scholars Fund, students at the bilingual elementary-middle school at 3500 Foster Ave. now have a print and electronic book collection, and a dedicated reading room in which to enjoy them.
The grant of around $10,000 covered the cost of books, Nook e-readers, shelves, decorations, a sofa, and comfortable floor seating, according to Kristina Collins, a teacher at Archbishop Borders who was in charge of putting the reading room together.
While the bulk of the grant money was spent creating the reading room, a portion of the funds are held in escrow for maintenance and replacement costs, Collins says.
What makes the reading room different from a library, Collins explains, is that it is dedicated to reading for fun–with the hope that reading for pleasure will improve student literacy, especially among reluctant readers.
“It’s a reading lounge, a place to enjoy a good book that you want to read. Students can’t take out the books. They can’t bring in pens or pencils either. That helps preserve the integrity of the books,” says Collins, who teaches sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade social studies and literature.
The Archbishop Borders School reading room is one of 88 Ben Carson Scholars reading rooms established since 2000 around the country, and the 46th in Maryland.
Two other such reading rooms in the East Baltimore area are at Graceland Park/O’Donnell Heights Elementary and at Wolfe St. Academy.
Collins believes that Archbishop Borders School is the first Catholic School to be awarded a reading room via the Carson Scholars Fund. In order to get the funding to create a Ben Carson Reading Room, the Carson Scholars Fund works with individuals, businesses, civic organizations, and foundations.
The Carson Scholars Fund is named for Dr. Ben Carson, a noted Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon—now a player in the political arena—who sees reading as a way to unlock the academic potential of students and promote lifelong learning. In addition to the reading rooms, the Carson Scholars Fund awards $1,000 college scholarships to students in grades 4-11 who excel academically and are dedicated to serving their communities.
Collins says that the reading room was a school-wide project.
“The students had a say in what books were purchased and eagerly looked forward to the opening of the reading room last month,” she says.
“I ordered a lot of books for reluctant readers, such as Marvel comics, graphic novels, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. It’s a pleasure for me to see the students devouring books and being completely engulfed. The reading room has already made a great impact.”
by Danielle Sweeney