Since taking office in 2012, Mayor Jon Mitchell has sought to reestablish New Bedford as one of the leading cities in the Northeast. A critical component of his regeneration strategy is expanding educational opportunity and attainment for all New Bedford children, and he knows that learning begins with literacy . According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child’s first three years offer a critically important window for brain development—a window during which reading aloud, talking, singing, and rhyming every day help young children reach their full potential.

The early learning that occurs in pre-K to grade 2 is also critical to achieving reading proficiency. A national study commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. Our schools should not have to support the literacy of our city’s children alone; we must work together to ensure that all New Bedford students reach their full potential.

The Mission

Through New Bedford Reads, we will provide families, community organizations, and businesses with the tools to promote reading outside of school. We hope to raise awareness for the importance of early literacy and to create and sustain literacy-rich environments and experiences for children in New Bedford. Teaching children, families, and the community the importance of literacy from a young age grows a healthy workforce and an informed and engaged citizenry. Children who read early become adults who read for life.

New Bedford Reads is designed to support early literacy by:

  • Raising awareness for the importance of reading aloud to children from birth
  • Providing families with increased access to books
  • Encouraging kids of all ages to choose books they want to read
  • Empowering the community with the tools to promote early literacy


Make a “Summer Leap” in Literacy Skills

Let’s focus on turning the potential for the “summer slide,” the common loss of academic skills while students are not in school, into the “summer leap.” Reading throughout the summer helps ensure kids return to school on grade level and ready to learn!

All summer long, the Mayor’s Office will be tracking a set of reading benchmarks to measure the success of the initiative:

Get Involved


Participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

From May 8–September 8, kids in grades K–8 are invited to participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, a free, global, online, and mobile summer reading program that motivates kids to read by logging their reading minutes to earn digital prizes and gain access to activities, games, and videos.

Attend a Local Literacy Event This Summer

Throughout the summer, the New Bedford Public Library, the New Bedford Housing Authority, and other community partners will distribute free, high-quality, diverse books to children from the community. All events listed below will take place from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

Saturday, June 24: Summer Fun & Learning

Participating sites include Duncan Dottin Place, Satellite Village, Chaffee Street, Demedeiros, Church Street, and Plainville Road.

Saturday, July 29: Your Public Library, Your Second Home!

Participating sites include Presidential Heights, Brickenwood, Nashmont, Sawyer Park, and Shawmut Village.

Saturday, August 26: Leap Ahead at Your Library!

Participating sites include Bay Village, Ben Rose, Westlawn, Blue Meadows, Mosher/Alec, and Parkdale.

Community Partners

Community partners play an important role in creating a culture of literacy throughout New Bedford. Several community partners in New Bedford are dedicated to supporting this mission:

Scholastic, the global children’s book publisher, education, and media company, is committed to donating one book for every child ages 0–8 in New Bedford, providing more than 12,500 books in total. Scholastic is also providing New Bedford with a collection of research and resources to support family and community engagement activities.



TM ® & © Scholastic Inc. All rights reserved. SCHOLASTIC and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc. Other company names, brand names, and product names are the property and/or trademarks of their respective owners. Scholastic does not endorse any product or business entity mentioned herein.