With all of the books read and forms returned, hundreds of schoolchildren in the Ma’aleh Adumim region have celebrated this year’s A.H.A.V.A. English language Read-a-thon with a community celebration. A record 20,663 NIS was raised for AHAVA’s scholarship fund, with over 200 participants reading 2,780 books, a total of 177,932 pages.

The event held at the Maaleh Adumim Ehskol Payis was attended by over 300 people including children and their families. The guests also included local Mayor Benny Kashriel and Yoav Schurr from the municipality’s department of education.

Children from 14 schools throughout the Ma’aleh Adumim area who took part in the Read-a-thon were sponsored to read as many English language books as they could in five weeks starting December 30 and finishing February 3.

This year’s 202 participants, the highest ever, included seven American children supporting the project. Sarah German from East Brunswick, New Jersey said, “I wanted to do a special chesed project for my bat mitzvah that involved my love of reading.” In Washington DC, 11-year-old twins Lucy and Emma Lawrence, as well as their younger brother Asher (9) also took part. Their mother Beth Lawrence explained, “Since the kids are avid readers, the Read-a-thon was a great match for our family.”

For the first time, adults also joined the Read-a-thon with Kfar Adumim elementary school principal Amira Perlow and manager of the local Bank Hapoalim Shai Hammami among the adult contingent.

Alongside the reading, children also wrote to personalities they admired asking about their favorite childhood books. Among the replies came answers from Jewish Home Party Chairman Naftali Bennett, children’s author Ashcar, and local Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel. Copies of letters sent by children and their replies were displayed at the party on Sunday which opened with a book sale and storytelling before prizes were given out to children who had made significant read achievements. Entertainment was provided by mime artist Ofer Goren.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Assistant Coach Derrick Sharp answered Ofek Pazelo (11): “Continue to work hard and read as many books as you can. It’s very important for your development! My favorite book as a child was Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, while later around your age it was Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. I wish you all the best, dream big! You can be whatever you want to be. Never stop believing!”

Nobel Prize laureate Professor Robert Aumann answered with his choice Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities writing: “It’s the first really serious book that I read. I read it together with my mother, and then the book gripped me, and I ran ahead by myself.”

A.H.A.V.A. Director Gaila Cohen Morrison said, “The party was fantastic with a great atmosphere and tangible sense of achievement. The time children put into events such as the Read-a-thon give them enthusiasm for improving their English literacy skills. This helps unlock a world of wider reading for them and opens up important opportunities for them later on in life. Lots of new kids joined the Read-a-thon this year and there has been some really positive feedback from parents and teachers.”

One parent of an eighth grader said, “My son has doubled his level in English because of the 15 books that he read this year. It really gave him an injection of energy for reading.”

The event was sponsored by Bank Hapoalim, Maaleh Adumim Municipality, Segula magazine, Burgers Bar, Ricochet, Gamelish, Chavat Hamidbar Horse Ranch, Or Halevana, Nof Hayarden, Janis Design, Pizza Roni, and Wiz Kids. v


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