University students address class discrepancies with book drive for Adelante

by: COURTESY PHOTO: EMILEE HINGES - Pacific University student Tristen Nolasco read to children in the Adelante Mujeres program at the book donation Monday, Nov. 18, at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Pacific University students recently donated more than 1,000 children’s books to Adelante Mujeres, a Forest Grove nonprofit that educates Latina women and their families.

Pacific University professors Darlene Pagán and Alyson Burns-Glover were inspired after attending an Adelante Mujeres fundraiser where they heard a statistic that floored them: middle- to upper-class households usually have about 40 children’s books on the shelves, while the average poor household has one.

“We both have kids and know how important the books are to them,” Pagán said.

Throughout the semester, that statistic was the driving force behind the professors’ First Year Seminar class lessons in “economics as well as civic engagement,” Pagán said, adding that students extensively researched the connection between poverty, success and literacy rates.

Students from both classes set up a little friendly competition to collect as many books as possible. They split into groups, each of which had $25 to work with, and began gathering children’s reading material - much of it bilingual or Spanish only.

The books ended up coming from parents and friends, through Facebook and word of mouth, at the Forest Grove Friends of the Library book sale, and from Pacific staff.

The Pacific students and Pagán are also going to try to buy a bookcase for Adelante’s new wares.

At the donation event Monday, Nov. 18, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Pacific students listened to a bilingual explanation of the program and the children sang songs in Spanish.

The Pacific students read a big picture book to a room full of young admirers, then broke off into smaller groups to read together.

“I want to do this more often,” said Pagán.

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