Waterbury 1st graders receive gift of books from non-profit working to promote literacy, language skills in children

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Eli Valentin’s 1st-grade teacher at the Bunker Hill School promised him something cool in the classroom today.

“It’s really nice,” Eli said.

Eli is referring to free books his teacher passed out to all of his classmates that they could take home with them. The book was called Jabari Jumps.

It’s a story about being brave and being able to conquer challenges in life. In this case, Jabari was trying to jump off a diving board into a swimming pool but the board was high up and Jabari was scared. But, he remembered the training he got during swim lessons and he did it.

The books were donated to every single first grader in Waterbury Public Schools by a non-profit called Read to Grow.

“We promote literacy and language skills in children,” said Suzannah Holsenbeck of Read to Grow.

The Connecticut Community Foundation provided funding for the Waterbury books. More than 1,000 donated today across The Brass City. But, over 20 years, Read to Grow has given out more than two million books to young children and their families all over Connecticut.

“The more books you have in your home actually correlates — connects to — a better outcome for your child in terms of what educational level they’ll achieve,” Holsenbeck said. “In working with the district, we learned that they were concerned about the younger grades in terms of their time in school, ability to learn how to read, it’s so critical those early years.”

Eli loves his book and wants to be brave like Jabari as he continues to grow up. And when Eli does grow up, he tells News 8 he hopes to jump into becoming a YouTuber.

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