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Campaign yields 40,000 books for city’s school children

Date: 8/14/2015

SPRINGFIELD – The goal to have 2,000 people who work with children sign up with First Book may not have been exactly reached, but city school children will be receiving 40,000 books nonetheless.

Catherine Mastronardi, president of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals, explained to Reminder Publications that 1,760 people have signed up with the literacy organization and the local campaign is in “the honor system” to have 240 more people sign up.

First Book supplies school districts with free books. The paraprofessional union sponsored the signature drive here this summer. For every 2,000 people who join the effort – which includes teachers, support staff, employees at libraries, museums, shelters clinics, early childhood programs and faith-based organizations – the district is sent 40,000 books.

Mastronardi said the books would be arriving on Aug. 17 and volunteers will be unpacking and sorting them from Aug. 18 through 20 at Central High Schools.

The books will be distributed to students at Central High School on Aug. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the Back to School celebration at Blunt Park. Mastronardi noted the parking area at the park will be closed and people will be asked to park their cars at Central, making it convenient for parents and children to pick up their books.

She said he is “really exited and really happy” about the response from the public and noted that for ever 2,000 people who sign up, the schools would receive another 40,000 books.

“Registration can really be on-going forever and ever,” she said. To sign up, go to

One of the issues with literacy is the availability of books in the home, an issue the campaign addresses.

“It’s such a good things for kids,” she said of the effort.