What began as a bat mitzva project four years ago for Ellis School student Becca Lerman has evolved into a Listening Library for second-graders at Pittsburgh Minadeo.
Lerman, who is now a sophomore at Ellis, is working with the nonprofit Children’s Books on Tape, an organization co-founded several years ago by Faren Silverman, then a middle school student in Jupiter, Fla., to help combat illiteracy.
Lerman read and recorded some 200 books, and enlisted the help of her classmates in recording many more. The tapes were then packaged along with their corresponding new or gently used donated books.
The idea is for children to select a book, and read along with the recorded voice.
The books are at second-grade level, and consist primarily of picture books, according to Lerman.
“I started by going through my own books,” she said. “I took those to read and record, then donated those books. We also got some businesses to donate. Target gave us gift cards that we used to purchase some new books.”
The Listening Library consists of 50 recorded elementary level books and tapes in library storage bags along with a display rack, five tape recorders and tote bags. The recorded books on tape have been used in learning centers within the classroom, as well as circulated with tape recorders home with students.
While Lerman purchased the cassette tape recorders on which she and her peers recorded the stories, Children’s Books on Tape professionally packaged the books, and provided other supplies.
About 60 other listening libraries have been established in locations including elementary schools in Palm Beach, Martin County and Miami, Fla., New Haven, Conn., and Beijing. All told, Children’s Books on Tape volunteers have recorded more than 3,000 children’s books.
This will be the first Listening Library in Pittsburgh, Lerman said.
The Listening Library will be delivered to Nina Manack’s second grade class at Minadeo in the next week or two, according to Lerman. Manack could not be reached for comment before this paper went to press.
Lerman said she chose Minadeo as the recipient for the library because it is a Title 1 [large, low income student population] school in close proximity to her home.
The donation is valued at $600.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)