Group that Gives Maine 1st Graders Free Monthly Books is Growing
Dirigo Reads was founded by a local couple with a goal of providing each 1st grader in Maine a brand new book, each month of the school year.
How Did the Idea for this Program Start?
Dan and Karen Cashman (yes, the guy from the Nite Show) both grew up with parents who worked in libraries, so they always had access to books. So it had an impact on them when their daughter came home from school one day and said she wanted to loan one of her books to a friend, who didn't have any books of her own. Dan told me in an interview that his daughter's generosity helped spark the idea for Dirigo Reads.
Every kid should have a chance to have books that they fall in love with and read, over and over again, in their own home.
How Many Schools are Taking Part in Dirigo Reads?
This non-profit organization, headed by the Cashmans, originally set a goal of providing a brand new book every month to each 1st grader in the state of Maine by 2025. Of course, the pandemic slowed things a bit, but not as much as you might think. They were still able to get the books shipped to the participating schools, who then sent them home to the kids when classes weren't in session. Currently, 51 schools in more than 40 communities are receiving books through the Dirigo Reads program, serving 13 out of Maine's 16 counties.
Can More Schools Get Signed Up to Receive the Books?
Now the drive is on to include schools in at least one more county for the next school year. School administrators interested in having their 1st-grade classes take part in the program can contact Dan and Karen through the organization's website. Obviously, this type of large-scale project takes some financial backing and, while the organization has many corporate partners, they can always use a few more.