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First Book event in St. Albans, Queens

Vanishing act
New York Teacher
One man and two boys holding books
Alison Gendar

Robert Primous hopes sons Isaiah (left) and Elijah use the books they chose to expand their vocabularies in preparation for third grade next year.

What’s the fastest way to have 40,000 books disappear? Bring them to a UFT First Book event, of course. That’s exactly what happened at PS 15 in St. Albans, Queens, when parents, children and educators arrived early in the morning on May 5 and chose their favorites from those that had been laid out in the schoolyard by UFT members and volunteers from the community. Ken Greco, a teacher at the HS for Violin and Dance in the Bronx, came with the intention of stocking his classroom library. “I want to start a book club and get my students to do independent reading,” he said. “The best way to do that is to have a variety of books so they have a real choice.” Everyone who came out for the book giveaway, which was co-sponsored by state Sen. Leroy Comrie and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, had a unique reason for doing so. “I had hoped to get some early childhood books but those went first,” said pre-K teacher Norma Delacruz of PS 257 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

One woman holding books
Alison Gendar

Delacruz shows off some of her choices.

“So, instead I got books for older children and to help fill up other teachers’ classroom libraries. Their students used to be my students, and we all work together.” Denisha Duncan of Queens is a big reader and came out to find some books for her 10- and 11-year-old sisters. “With today’s technology, it’s so easy to get lost in the phone,” she said. “I don’t want my sisters just watching YouTube videos. I want them to read.” Director of Parent and Community Outreach Anthony Harmon, lead organizer of the event, said it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of dozens of UFT members and staff.