Gresham Reads program offers free books to children

September 19, 2017

Mayor Shane Bemis will launch the new Gresham Reads program, which offers free books to children at select local restaurants, at a kick-off event on September 21 from 1 p.m to 2 p.m. at Sugar Cubed Cakes, 101 N. Main Avenue. 

Through Gresham Reads, five local restaurants have agreed to host a bookshelf provided by the City. Children and families visiting the restaurant may read the books during their visit and may also take a book home with them. The City and partners have provided 300 free books to launch the program.

At the launch on September 21, Mayor Bemis will be joined by his wife Alix; Darlene Frazier, 2016 Oregon Council for the Social Studies Elementary Educator of the Year; and superintendents and other representatives from Reynolds, Gresham-Barlow and Centennial school districts. The Mayor and Mrs. Bemis will read stories to 2nd-graders from Hogan Cedars Elementary School. All children in attendance will get to take a book home with them. Free cupcakes will be offered.

"Studies routinely show the critical importance of childhood literacy. Gresham has a laser focus on our children and families right now, and the Gresham Reads program will give us a new and exciting way to make age-appropriate books accessible for our youngest residents," said Mayor Bemis. 

In a report to the City Council in 2016, the City's Commission on Children and Families highlighted the importance of reading as a critical component of early childhood development, as well as a method to improve academic outcomes. 

"I deeply appreciate the restaurants who've agreed to partner with us and host a Gresham Reads bookshelf. As a mother, I can attest to the fact that there is no greater joy than watching a child grasp the keys to literacy and build a true passion for reading and language. In agreeing to host a Gresham Reads bookshelf, these businesses are demonstrating to our children that reading and education are high priorities in Gresham," said Alix Bemis.

As a business owner, I am proud to be a Gresham Reads location. Not only do we get to support local kids and encourage their love of reading but this program will hopefully bring in new customers to all of the participating restaurants. I think it is a win-win for the community," said Kayla Brown, owner of Sugar Cubed Cakes.

Donations of new or gently used children's books are welcome to keep expanding the program and ensure new reading choices. Community members may drop off their donations at City Hall, 1333 NW Eastman Parkway, between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. 

"Our hope is that this program will expand to even more Gresham businesses in the coming year," said Alix Bemis.

Gresham Reads bookshelves can be found at the following restaurants:

  • Sugar Cubed Cakes, 101 N. Main Avenue 
  • Blondie's Pizza, 112 N. Main Avenue 
  • Tortilleria Y Tienda De Leon, 16223 NE Glisan St.
  • Shari's Café & Pies, 881 SW Highland Dr.
  • Burgerville, 2975 NE Hogan Dr.

Many thanks to our community partners for their generous support that helped launch this program:

  • The Children's Book Bank
  •  Friends of Multnomah County Library 
  •  Title Wave Books