IMANI receives gift of books from Mt. Hebron PTA Scholastic Book Fair

October 19, 2009
Montclair Times

IMANI, a non-profit community organization dedicated to promoting high achievement for all students in the Montclair Public Schools, was honored to be selected as the recipient of the 2009 One for Books fundraiser sponsored by the Mt. Hebron Middle School PTA Scholastic Book Fair. Each year, Mt. Hebron students raise funds to buy books from the Book Fair for a local organization that connects children with literature.

IMANI’s educational programs for elementary and middle school students make extensive use of children’s literature as a tool to improve reading and comprehension skills and help foster socialization and critical thinking. “Our experience has demonstrated that getting students excited about reading from an early age is crucial to improving student performance at every grade level,” said IMANI executive director JoAnn McCullough.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mt. Hebron PTA for choosing IMANI to receive this generous donation of books,” McCullough added. “This gift will go a long way towards helping us increase our library of books for both our elementary and middle school programs.”

The books from the Scholastic Book Fair will be provided to students enrolled in the Mini-IMANI and Middle IMANI programs.

Through the Mini-IMANI program, students in Grades K-5 participate in IMANI Reading Circles, child-driven, parent-supported “book clubs.” The students read age-appropriate, culturally relevant books and participate in small group discussions and related activities that promote critical thinking.

The two titles selected for the Mini-IMANI library collection are Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs: Lost in the Tunnel of Time by Sharon Draper and Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. Lost in the Tunnel of Time is a novel for young readers in which the four members of the Black Dinosaurs Club discover their hometown was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Bronx Masquerade is a middle grade novel in which 18 students at a New York City high school get to share their hopes, fears and insecurities with each other at a weekly “open mike poetry” session hosted by their teacher.

The Middle IMANI program is a literacy initiative targeted to adolescent boys of color. As a group, these students perform more poorly than their peers and are over-represented in special education classes. Middle IMANI focuses on strengthening reading and writing skills in a small group setting facilitated by trained adults who function both as reading tutors and mentors. Boys who participate in this program sharpen their literacy skills by reading, discussing, evaluating, and writing about culturally appropriate books of high interest to their age group.

The book selected for Middle IMANI is Monster by Walter Dean Myers, a young adult novel that tells the story of a 16 year-old from Harlem who is being tried for a felony murder.

As the recipient of the One for Books donation, IMANI received multiple copies of all three novels. “This is a real treat for us,” McCullough noted. “As we continue to grow, we will have an even greater need for age-appropriate books that capture the interest of students at all grade levels.”