New London - In an effort to increase literacy, the Whale's Tales Book Bank is hoping every child in the city will wake up Christmas or Kwanzaa morning, or the first day of Hanukkah, with a gaily wrapped book on their bed.
Tina Salcedo, early childhood and literacy coordinator for City Youth Affairs, said the goal of "A Book on Every Bed" is to make book-giving a family tradition.
"Reading can be a gift,'' said Salcedo, who is in charge of the book bank. "It puts a fun spin on getting families interested in literacy.''
Jean Scialabba of Ledyard, a volunteer with the book bank, fell in love with the idea of starting a holiday with a book.
"I thought, what a fantastic idea. It's so simple and so powerful,'' she said.
Anyone can go to the book bank - open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday - and take out a book. During December, Youth Affairs will provide wrapping paper. Salcedo said she is also working with nonprofit groups in the city to help distribute books.
Scialabba already has collected about 10 boxes of books and has enlisted the help of local Lions clubs.
Millie Burke, vice president of the Eastern Connecticut Asian and American Lions Club, has been collecting books for several weeks. She presented the project to district officials, and now 54 clubs from southeastern and southern Connecticut are participating.
She said the Lions, which are known for collecting eyeglasses and providing services to the blind, also participats in community projects. The national president chose literacy as its annual project, she said.
"I saw the info on 'A Book on Every Bed' and I really liked that idea because I'm a reader,'' Burke said.
The book bank at the Martin Center opened in 2004 and provides free reading materials, from board books for babies to chapter books for teens.