Open Book Project Welcomes Elementary School Students to NDNU Campus to Choose Books and Learn about College

Each semester Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is delighted to see the smiling faces of scores of elementary school students who come to our campus as part of the Open Book Project. Since 2010, students in the Community Psychology class have raised funds to provide children’s books for kids who lack the resources to buy books for themselves. The project focuses on the importance of reading and how it can “open the world” for children.

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Student choosing a book at Open Book Project event

This week marked the eighth year of the Open Book Project.  NDNU Community Psychology students visit elementary school students multiple times at their campuses and then invite the students to our Belmont campus. This year’s group were 65 first graders from Roosevelt Elementary in Redwood City, California, a school where nearly three-quarters of the students qualify for the National School Lunch Program. The students spent most of the day at NDNU on April 19, 2017, taking part in a scavenger hunt, art activities, and selecting the book of their choice to take home. In addition to reading with the children, Community Psychology students talked with the first graders about going to college and future career plans. Transportation and refreshments were provided.

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NDNU students helping elementary school kids select books

The Open Book Project was designed with three main goals in mind:

  • To thank NDNU’s community partners for mentoring and providing opportunities for our students to participate in community engagement.
  • To provide an opportunity for different NDNU departments to work together on a meaningful and engaging project. The School of Education and Psychology, NDNU’s Library, and NDNU’s Art Therapy Program collaborate each year on this Project.
  • To choose and work collaboratively with a community partner to design a project that would address its needs.

Since the Open Book Project began in 2010, NDNU students have raised approximately $6,000 for book purchases. The elementary school students who have participated have ranged from first to fourth graders. They have visited from the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District, the Redwood City Elementary School District, and the San Bruno Park School District. In addition to books for individual reading, the books purchased include classroom resources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works. Additional funds ($250–$500) are also given to each elementary school to purchase books for its school library.

Gretchen Wehrle is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Sociology at Notre Dame de Namur University. She is also the Director of the Sr. Dorothy Stang Faculty Scholars Program at the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement.

Find out more about NDNU’s programs Psychology and Sociology

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