Psychology Class Creates Book Drive to Benefit Local Elementary School

Posted 02/27/08
Along with returning to campus with suntans (or sunburns), new spring duds and a backpack full of work to complete by the end of March, Barbara Juhasz, assistant professor of psychology, would like students to bring back one more thing from break: a book for Middletown gradeschoolers.

The “Bring Back a Book” Book Drive is the brainchild of students in Juhasz’s Psychology of Reading Class. The drive will be going on throughout the week of March 24.

The idea is for Wesleyan students come back from break with new or lightly used books that are appropriate for first to fifth grade students and place them in collection boxes around campus. The books collected will be given to students at Middletown’s Commodore Macdonough Elementary School to build up classroom libraries.

“Research suggests that children become more skilled at reading when they have access to rich libraries containing many books that interest them,” Juhasz says. “Yet urban schools, such as Macdonough, often do not have enough resources to build rich classroom libraries.”

Juhasz said that collection boxes will be placed at Usdan, Judd Hall, the Center for Community Partnerships, the Freeman Athletic Center, some student residences and other locations to be determined. Faculty and staff are welcome to donate books as well.

Students in Juhasz’s class have been working to help teach kids to read throughout the semester. The students, such as Abby Sedney ’10, noticed that most classrooms in Macdonough “had very small libraries or no libraries at all,” Sedney says.

Students initially thought about adding to the classroom libraries by donating service-learning funds to buy books. However, the idea of a book drive was floated and the students liked it, thinking it may garner more books for the school.

“We’re hoping this book drive can help the kids at Macdonough become more interested in reading,” Sedney says. “By collecting from so many people, we’re hoping to give each student an opportunity to read books that interest them, not just books that follow the lesson plans. We figured spring break would be a great time to hold the drive because we are well aware of how hard it is for students to buy or find elementary level books while on campus. We’re hoping students can look through old books at home, or have an opportunity to go to a book store and pick out a book or two.”

“I think that the book drive will be a nice way for Wesleyan students to gain awareness about educational issues in the Middletown community that the typical Wesleyan student may not think about on a daily basis,” Emily Rosen-King ’08 says. “This will be a positive gesture showing that we care about the well-being of MacDonough Elementary school, which is just a five-minute walk from campus.”

For more information and to inquire about donating a book, email Juhasz at or call her at 860-685-4978.

By Corrie Balash Kerr, associate director of media relations