JetBlue Keeping Local Kids Reading During The Summer With Free Books

School may be out for the summer but one of the most recognizable brands in South Florida is helping local kids keep reading to get a head start for when they return to class.

After successful runs in Washington D.C. and Detroit, JetBlue is bringing the Soar With Reading program to Fort Lauderdale. The initiative brings four free vending machines to distrubute donated books at public spaces around the city which the airline uses as a major hub, but has also connected with since building a base of operations here.

"They all believe in giving back, they all believe in building community," Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler at a launch event held at Joseph C. Carter Park. "If you can make a difference with this generation, get them reading books, get them to put down all these devices that we have in our hands all the time, and focus on reading, it's going to open up so many opportunities for these children."

The four local vending machines, which will be replenished with fresh titles throughout the summer, will be located at:

  • Joseph C. Carter Park 1450 West Sunrise Boulevard
  • Osswald Park 2220 Northwest 21st Avenue
  • Mills Multi-Purpose Center 900 Northwest 31st Avenue
  • Riverland Branch Library 2710 Davie Boulevard

"Giving a child the right book can change their lives," said author Mary Pope Osborne, whose Magic Tree House books are among the selections available to children in Fort Lauderdale.

The partnership between JetBlue and Random House Children's Books has demonstrated tangible effects on students participating in the program. Dr. Susan Neuman of New York University found that three out of four children with access to the vending machines score higher on early literacy exams than before they had access to the machines.

"Our research shows that children are more interested in reading when they see their parents reading," said JetBlue's Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Icema Gibbs. "As a result, we've added titles that appeal to grown-ups, allowing families to enjoy reading together."

As part of the age appropriate inventory of books available at the free vending machines, the Soar With Reading program is providing bilingual books in Fort Lauderdale to help improve literacy rates and give students a leg up in the classroom when school starts up again.

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