Mayor Kate Gallego and son Michael

Mayor Kate Gallego and son Michael.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, in collaboration with the Phoenix Youth and Education Office, has introduced a new program to inspire children to read. The initiative is called the Mayor’s Birthday Book Club.

The program is targeted at children pre-K to 3rd grade and will provide an age-appropriate book for each child during their birthday month, with a letter from the Mayor included.

“Early childhood education and literacy are both essential to me,” Gallego said. “Statistics show us that children who read age-appropriate books have a better chance at academic success and a stronger foundation for success throughout their lives.”

The goal of this pilot program is to have 500 books sent out this year.

“Reading is such a gift to give a child,” Gallego said. “I have a four-year-old, and we go to the library often since reading together is a special time for us. I’ve always wanted to combine the joy of reading with him with a literacy movement, and hopefully, this program will start a tradition.”

The first book sent out will be a 20-page softcover titled Be You! by New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.

“It encourages kids to take risks and realize they don’t have to be like other kids. Also, it has been approved by my son Michael. Other mayors I’ve spoken to are passionate about starting something similar,” Gallego said.

The Birthday Book Club is part of Read On Phoenix and My Brother’s Keeper, two early childhood education and literacy programs. It is also a partnership between Scholastic and Phoenix librarians specializing in youth literacy.