Children read in programs supported by Island Readers & Writers. PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLAND READERS & WRITERS

Island Readers and Writers marks 10th anniversary



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — As another school year draws near, Island Readers & Writers (IRW) is celebrating its 10th year of bringing book-centered programs to predominantly remote schools across coastal Maine and Washington and Hancock counties.

The goal of IRW’s programs is to augment the quality of children’s education by sparking imaginations, developing critical and reflective thinking skills and expanding worlds through hands-on learning in natural history, science, literature, writing and art.

The organization works closely with teachers, school administrators, community leaders, Maine authors and illustrators, scientists, historians and volunteers to ensure that its programs meet the individual needs and interests of the communities in which it serves.

“We believe that children who learn through reading and book-related experiences will be more engaged in their own education and will achieve a broader understanding of the world and their own potential,” said Jan Coates, founder and executive director of IRW, at its annual meeting and breakfast on Aug. 10.

“We also believe in the promise that lies within every child, regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

A decade ago, IRW visited four outer-island schools and donated 112 author-signed books to schoolchildren. Last year, IRW donated 3,231 inscribed books to students in 24 different schools from Cliff Island to Lubec.

IRW has grown over the past couple of years, and there are immediate plans to expand its offerings.

This year, two more schools — Ella Lewis School in Steuben and Woodland Elementary School in Baileyville — will become IRW partners for a total of 26 schools served. In the 2018-2019 school year, another two schools will be added to the program.

In addition to the author/illustrator school visits, IRW hosts special literature-based programs for the young readers of Mount Desert Island.

Starting this fall, students at Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harbor will have a chance to select their own winners for the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious prize in children’s literature.

The Mock Newbery program will allow children to read at least five prize contenders outside of the classroom, become involved in lunchtime discussion groups and select their own Newbery award winner.

This fall, seventh graders in each of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) schools will read “Wolf Hollow” by Lauren Wolk and come together on Oct. 20 for the annual Seventh Grade Read. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different MDIRSS schools as well as community volunteer facilitators.

IRW relies on the time and generosity of volunteers, who help make its programs run smoothly. Visit islandreadersandwriters.org or call 244-5111.

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