On Sunday, September 29th, hundreds of families gathered to experience the magic of books through a number of completely free activities embracing creativity, expression, and above all: reading. The Reading Promise reading festival, hosted by the Orange Elks with support of the Orange Public Library Foundation, invites families from nine Title I schools of Orange Unified School District. It is aimed to give children with obstacles such as cost of books or the unavailability of a parent/guardian to read to them a chance to experience the invigoration of stories that most of us take for granted.
Reading Promise encourages reading through a fun and exciting setting, in contrast to reading assigned by school which is often perceived as more of a chore. This inclusive and interactive environment was created with the help of numerous activities available to the children. Some of the opportunities included decorating bookmarks, face painting, and taking photo booth photos. The families received free snacks and delicious hot dogs for lunch. As for the reading itself, attendees got to listen to stories told by their favorite characters from Snow White to Spider-Man as well as generous volunteers. In accordance with the theme “Reading is Magic,” appropriately, there were multiple showings of a magic show for the families to enjoy.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the event was the finale of the activities, which included the distribution of free backpacks filled with books for each of the children who partook in the event. By the end of the day, over 400 backpacks and books were given away to children of these underprivileged families, the record amount of any Reading Promise thus far out of the 5 years this event has been hosted. While many kids take such items for granted, the families at reading promise were ecstatic to receive these for free and expressed sincere thanks.
The general joy and enthusiasm at Reading Promise spread from children, to parents, to the numerous volunteers that committed their time to helping plan and work this event. Volunteers included those from the Orange Elks, the Orange Public Library Foundation, and Chapman’s Office of Community Relations as well as Chapman University students and other local community members. Families were delighted for the opportunity to spend some quality bonding time together. Also, parents/guardians were very encouraging of the instillment of the values of art and literature into their young ones. All in all, this event was a huge success, this year even more than any other year in the past. The Orange Elks are very overjoyed with the outcome of Reading Promise 2019 and are looking forward to planning next year’s Reading Promise.