Internship inspires child readers

By Dan O'Brien
May 22, 2014

A recent Writing, Literature and Publishing graduate is being praised for launching an essay contest in which children explain why they love reading.

Several of the elementary school essay winners read their essays aloud at Porter Square Books in Cambridge on May 16 and even signed autographs for each other.

Pascal “My favorite part of the project was watching the kids read,” said Erinn Pascal ’14, who launched the essay contest during her internship at the David R. Godine, Inc., publishing house as a way to promote the 95th anniversary of Children’s Book Week.

“They were so eloquent,” Pascal said. “When we saw more than 80 people at the event, the bookstore’s owner turned to me and said, ‘I love this. This gives me hope.’”

Pascal, a native of Pembroke Pines, Florida, said more than 100 essay submissions were received from students in grades K–6 at schools in Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge.

Pascal- child winner

One of the winners in an essay contest about reading launched by Erinn Pascal '14 reads his essay aloud at Porter Square Books on May 16. (Photo Courtesy of Erinn Pascal)

“Their responses were sharp [and] funny,” Pascal said. “When you meet these 6- and 7-year-olds, you realize the publishing industry isn’t dying—it’s adapting. Kids need to read. They need to be able to explore their imaginations and imagine worlds they never did before.”

Godine selected seven winners and published each essay on the Godine Inc.’s blog.

“We wanted the kids to feel like real authors,” Pascal said. “I compiled all of their responses into a book and each received a limited edition copy published by [Godine].”

“After the reading, the kids went around and signed everyone’s copy,” she said. “They were the stars of the evening!”

Pascal - Porter Sq

More than 80 children and parents attended the reading essay event at Porter Square Books on May 16. (Photo Courtesy of Erinn Pascal '14)

Sabrina Lou, a teacher at the Driscoll School in Brookline, said the contest and gathering at Porter Square Books “brought great joy to more than 15 students from Driscoll.”

“Many of them started the year struggling with reading and writing and [reading aloud at the bookstore] gave them the opportunity to prove how that has all changed,” Lou said. “A few students …overcame their shyness when they approached the stage. I went home that night knowing [Pascal] made a tremendous impact on many, many children and families.”

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