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Holiday book drive benefits children in need

I walked into my office last week and saw a huge box of children’s books donated anonymously for our annual book drive. It was a wonderful surprise, a reminder of how supportive the Los Altos community has been in our efforts to promote local literacy, confidence and creativity.

Books are at once a great escape and an even greater equalizer. When I was younger and had moved across the country with my family, I didn’t know many people. I spent hours reading, poring over biographies, historical fiction and narrative nonfiction. I would stay up half the night finishing a book started on a whim in the middle of the afternoon.

These days, I find my habit of needing to finish what I start to be an occasional handicap. Recently, Jojo Moyes, author of the best-sellers “Me Before You” (Penguin Books, 2013) and “The Last Letter from Your Lover” (Penguin Books, 2012), has been known to unintentionally thwart my afternoon plans after I innocently peruse the first few pages of one of her novels.

With the omnipresence of technological gadgets and interactive devices, we must continue promoting the simple act of reading more than ever. The social, emotional and economic impacts are hard to ignore. Research has uncovered a correlation between the amount of time children read for fun on their own and an increased level of reading achievement. Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because of reading problems.

At my Green Ivy Educational Consulting office, I can quickly tell when students read regularly for fun. Parents often ask me how to improve test scores on standardized tests such as the ISEE, SSAT, HSPT, SAT or ACT (enough acronyms?). Typically, my answer is to encourage students to read more – even math skills are improved with increased reading, especially on tests with word problems. Reading helps with critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, in addition to offering a great way to relax and escape from the stresses of being a preteen or adolescent.

We are collecting books 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 19 at our Los Altos office, 302 Main St., Suite 201, on the second floor above US Bank. There is a drop-off container in our front waiting room.

In the past, we have had entire elementary school classrooms clean out their bookshelves to participate. We are gathering books in new or gently used condition for children and young adults. All books are donated to The Children’s Project, which distributes them to hospitals, homeless shelters and the homes of children in need in the Bay Area.

Help us reach this year’s goal of 500 books.

Ana Homayoun is founder and director of Green Ivy Educational Consulting. For more information, call 472-0617 or visit greenivyed.com.

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