A Positive Energy Day : Family Literacy Day Set for November 3 at Chelsea Public Library

Planning committee members Sarah Gay, children’s librarian,
Robert Collins, executive director, and Margo Johnson of MGH Chelsea, are looking forward to the seventh annual Family Literacy Day “Chelsea Reads” event that will be held on November 3 at the Chelsea Public Library.

It has become one of the most anticipated days on the fall calendar and it draws one of the largest turnouts of any event in the city.

Dr. Mary Bourque, superintendent of Chelsea schools, will be there. Police Chief Brian Kyes, Sergeant David Flibotte, and Officer Sammy Mojica will be there. And State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty will be back again as well.

While they are a few of the celebrity readers who will participate in the 7th Annual Family Literacy Day: “Chelsea Reads” on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), this event is first and foremost for the children of Chelsea and for those who love to read books and learn.

Robert Collins, executive director of the Chelsea Public Library, Sarah Gay, children’s librarian, and Margo Johnson of the Mass General Hospital Health Center expect more than 800 children to walk through the doors of the library on November 3.

And why wouldn’t any child in Chelsea be at the library for a day of fun, entertainment, educationally interactive booths, and get this, a free backpack and free books? Admission to the event is free for children and families.

“You actually see kids wearing these backpacks throughout the year,” said Gay.

It was Johnson who helped launch the first Family Literacy Day fair seven years ago. Donna DiFillippo is also credited as a co-founder of the event that sprung from MGH’s Raising A Reader program.

“Chelsea is the first city in Massachusetts to have the Raising the Reader program,” said Collins. “The program started in the southwestern part of the country.”

After connecting Raising A Reader with City Manager Jay Ash, Johnson formed a partnership for Literacy Day with Collins and one of the city’s most popular events was born.

Collins said Literacy Day is always held in November to mark National Literacy Day “and we’ve always chosen the first Saturday of November.”

The first Literacy Day drew approximately 100 children and parents. The past two years it has soared over the 800 mark in attendance, making it second in popularity to Chelsea’s “Back to School” Day.

“It’s amazing,” said Collins, reflecting on the event’s growth and how much children look forward to it each year. “I think it’s grown because the event itself has gotten more sophisticated and the planning committee has done more advertising and outreach – and the whole thing together just clicks.”

Johnson said Superintendent Bourque’s office arranged for 5,000 fliers to be printed and then distributed to Chelsea students.

In addition to the aforementioned “celebrity readers,” Chelsea Cable Television Executive Director Robert Bradley, Centro Latino Executive Director Juan Vega, and former School Committee member Liz McBride will read to the children. The sponsors of the event are Kirshon Paints, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, DM Signs, McDonald’s, Rotary Club of Chelsea, and Kiwanis Club of Chelsea.

Ernie and Burt and Clifford the Red Dog will be on hand to mingle and pose for photos with the children. There are 13 separate tables featuring interactive activities. A disc jockey, D.J. Alex Jr., will provide the music and there will be a face painting table.

The number of people using the Chelsea Public Library continues to grow each year, according to Collins.

“There are more library users young and old than ever before,” said Collins.

And on November 3, the library – both floors – will be the place to be the the children of Chelsea.

“It’s a positive energy day,” said Collins.

“Everybody said they had a great time last year,” said Gay.

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