Reading, ‘Riting, & Red-ing

Paul Bass PhotoA mayor known for her red dress jackets teamed up with a pooch known for his red fur to promote a common cause—getting kids to read.

The pair—Mayor Toni Harp and Clifford the Big Red Dog (of Scholastic Books fame) —met up at City Hall Wednesday afternoon to urge people to participate in an upcoming community canvass in the Newhallville neighborhood.

Volunteers hope to knock on hundreds of doors in Newhallville this Saturday to promote more involvement by parents in their children’s education. The volunteers will drop off bags including books for kids (donated by Scholastic) and for adults (donated by New Haven Reads), as well as information about counteracting bullying and showing up for school.

Organizers held Wednesday’s event to ask community members to show up at Lincoln-Bassett School at 9 a.m. for breakfast, then to set out on the canvas. Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church is serving the breakfast and joining the canvass in force.

The city, including the Board of Ed, has held these canvasses before. This Saturday’s canvass has an added literacy theme in keeping with Mayor Harp’s challenge to have at least 50 percent of city schoolkids reading at grade level.

After the press event, Clifford (aka Hillhouse High School senior and city Youth Services intern Michael Blake) spoke with the Independent (click above) about his own hunger for books. He had a copy of Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet in his paws, to bone up on fruits and vegetables. He was asked his favorite recent read. The answer: George Orwell’s 1984. He said it made him find humans “very interesting.”

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