‘Reading Opens the World’ at Saltonstall School Celebrates Literacy, Gives Free Books

Posted on: November 29, 2023
Reading Opens the World Salem

SALEM (Nov. 29, 2023) – A commitment to early literacy took center stage on Monday afternoon at Salem’s Saltonstall School in the form of Reading Opens the World, a literacy initiative by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts and the Salem Teachers Union.

Salem Mayor Dominick Pangallo and Salem Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike served as guest readers of “Something, Somewhere,” by Amanda Gorman, Mayor Pangallo in English and Superintendent Zrike in Spanish. 

Following the reading, first grade students were presented with a copy of “Something, Somewhere’” with English and Spanish versions from which to choose, as well as a copy of their choice of the following: “Jugo Fresco,” by Robert Liu-Trujillo; “Our Blue Planet,” by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe; “Big,” by Vashti Harrison; and “All Are Neighbors,” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman.

“We are thrilled that, with the help of AFT Massachusetts, the Salem Teachers Union is able to bring forward the importance of access to books in our community,” said Ann Berman, General Music teacher at Bates Elementary School and President of the Salem Teachers Union who helped coordinate the event. “AFT’s goal is to bring the love of reading to every child, one book at a time.

“The event at Saltonstall was well-received by all-staff and students,” Ms. Berman added. “It was wonderful to see the kids get their books and then sit down to look at them, marvel at the pictures, and share with their friends. In the next few weeks, all first graders across the district will be receiving books from STU/AFTMA.”

Reading Opens the World 2023 was made possible by a grant provided by AFT Massachusetts which covered the cost of the books for first graders across the district. Salem is one of several Massachusetts gateway cities in the 2023-24 academic year to receive the grant. 

In its second year, Reading Opens the World has donated 1,700,000 books to students across the country with the goal to surpass 2,000,000 before the 2024-25 school year.

The mission of Reading Opens the World is to:

  • Give teachers and school staff the tools and professional development that translate the science of reading into usable resources to help students read and read well; 
  • To give parents and caregivers fun and research-based tips and tools to support literacy;
  • To build on and forge new connections among families, communities, educators and schools to be partners in student literacy;
  • And to give children and young people free books to read, love and keep.

To find out more about Reading Opens the World, visit www.aft.org/read.

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.