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By Gabe Stern
Hometown Weekly Intern
Over 50 kids ranging from ages 4-10 packed the Needham Public Library’s community room last Friday, July 7, to kick off “When You Read You Score,” a summer reading event hosted by the Boston Bruins and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
The event, which tours libraries throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire from late June through August, started in 2009 with the sole purpose of motivating elementary-aged students to read more over the summer.
The bulk of the hour-long program consisted of groups of recent Bruins draft picks and signees leading kids through three different stations: shootout hockey, team-building activities (including Jenga and Word Scramble), and a station where the players would read to the kids.
For those in attendance, the main draw of the day was to see Bruins prospects up close. For the Bruins prospects and organizers of the event, their goal was to inspire the kids to see reading as a fun activity rather than a chore.
Celeste Bruno, a representative from the MBLC and key organizer of the event, stressed the importance of reading over the summer, while admitting to the challenges of getting kids to pick up a book during their long-awaited vacation. “There are so many studies that show that kids who read over the summer do better in school in the upcoming year … but if you say to a lot of kids ‘Hey, how about reading all summer long,’ they might not think that’s the best idea.”
Bruno says this is where the Bruins players can help.
“With the players here and the visits across the state, it’s showing that everybody reads.”
If this was hard to believe for children in attendance, the players proved this themselves when they read aloud “Up the Creek” by Nicolas Oldland to their respective groups. Before they started, however, each player talked about their favorite childhood story growing up. Whenever a popular story title was mentioned, an excited whisper would arise from the children who shared that book as their favorite.
“It’s wonderful to see kids being this excited and enjoying themselves at a library event.” Paula Dugan, the Children’s Library supervisor remarked. “[The children] are very involved with the team, and being able to meet players and talk with them through stories and games really gets them excited about reading.”
The excitement that the kids shared by being around NHL hopefuls rubbed off on the players themselves. “Any time you can give back to the community is special”, remarked Bruins goaltending prospect and Weymouth native Robert McGovern.
“Especially with something like this where a lot of people came out … It was just a great day all around.”