On Centre | Around Bellefonte: A book for Bellefonte

Getting a community to come together under a single event is a challenge. Getting a community to come together under a single book is an even greater objective.

Jackie Wynkoop, secondary literacy coach for the Bellefonte Area School District, has taken that challenge. She, along with elementary literacy coach Jennifer Zahuranec and a host of others have put together the Bellefonte Reads Community Literacy Night.

To be held at the Bellefonte Area High School, the literacy night aims to bring the community together to discuss books and ideas, Wynkoop said.

“The whole idea is just to help foster a love of reading and literacy in the entire community,” she said.

Under development for the past year, she said, Bellefonte Reads was born of Wynkoop and Zahuranec’s “one book, one Bellefonte” initiative, which seeks to get the whole Bellefonte community reading and discussing the same book.

That book, Wynkoop said, is “The Red Pencil” by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It tells the story of 12-year-old Amira, a Sudanese refugee with a desire to learn to read and write.

The whole idea of the book appealed to Wynkoop, she said, thinking a large range of people in the community would like and understand the story.

The first 100 families that register for the event will receive a free copy of the book, she said. The Bellefonte Women’s Club will also provide a copy to each school in the district and to all the little free libraries in the area.

A love of literacy should start at an early age, Wynkoop said, and parents should understand the importance of sharing books with children. The earlier families can share the necessity for reading and writing to their children, the better chances those kids will have in school.

“I think by reading and talking about reading, it really helps bind community members together,” she said.

Children’s book author Martha Freeman will make an appearance to hold an author’s talk, she said. Themed baskets will be given away as prizes, and the Centre County Library bookmobile will be there to help sign visitors up for library cards.

The literacy night runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 19. Attendees can register through the school district website or by calling Leslie Elder at 355-4814, extension 3005.