McDonald’s literacy partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department begins at a McDonald’s on 4th Street in Albuquerque. Children received a free book from its author. (Roberto E. Rosales / )
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More than 4,000 copies of the bilingual children’s book Charles Reads / Carlos Lee will find their way into the hands of first graders across the state thanks to a partnership between the owners and operators of McDonald’s restaurants in New Mexico and the State Department of Education.
The initiative, now in its sophomore year, was launched on Wednesday at the McDonald’s restaurant at 1523 4th Street SW, with the book’s author, Cameron Bourg, reading to and reading from about 35 young people from the nearby Dolores Gonzales Elementary School.
Also present was the designated PED secretary Kurt Steinhaus.
“I came today to support the PED’s Year of Literacy and because it gives me the opportunity to thank our teachers,” said Steinhaus. “They are our heroes. They get up every day, put on their masks and make education possible in our schools today. “
An event like the book reading and raffle on Wednesday is a good way to put books in the hands of children and get them excited about reading, Steinhaus said. “The other good thing about it is that the book is bilingual and part of the literacy year is for kids to learn in their native language. For some of these children, Spanish is their first language and for some it is English. So we do both. “
Cameron Bourg, author of Charles Reads / Carlos Lee, reads aloud to first grade students at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School. The bilingual book will be distributed to students nationwide free of charge. (Roberto E. Rosales / )
Bourg, a special education and literacy teacher, has written a number of children’s books with the aim of “enabling children to discover the joy of reading by teaching them topics they find interesting”.
His story “Charles Reads” revolves around a little boy who loves to play with a cape and gloves, dress up like a superhero and resist all attempts by his family to sit down with a book and read.
This resistance dissolves when he comes across a book about superheroes:
“Then Charles finds that he reads the villains who fall on their knees with ease. Heroes are drawn on every page of a book for children his age! Charles reads for days. “
At the end of each of his stories, Bourg gives parents a tip to arouse their children’s interest and joy in reading.
Kenric Garcia, the owner and operator of the McDonald’s where the event was held, said the number of books being distributed to schools this year is about double what it was in the initiative’s first year during the free pandemic lunch programs.
Garcia said he and the other owners and operators are small business people “who live in the community, send our children to local schools, and understand the importance of supporting education and literacy”.