West Virginia Teen Donates Classic Books to Children of Moloka’i Head Start: Maui Now

A West Virginia high school student donated the classic book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” to 20 children at Molokaʻi Head Start in Kaunakakai.

The books were donated this week by Rania Zuri of Morgantown, W. Va., and her Fifty Nifty Head Start book donation project. He is part of the LiTEArary Society, his non-profit organization whose mission is to end children’s book deserts in Head Start programs nationwide.

Zuri said in an email that “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” was one of her favorite books as a child,

“I hope the children of Head Start enjoy this beloved story as much as I do – and that I still do,” she said. “I truly believe that certain books can spark a lifelong love of reading and I hope to visit Moloka’i and Maui in the very near future to bring more new books to your Head Start kids!”

Selecting the Maui Economic Opportunity Head Start on Molokaʻi, Zuri said she wanted to surprise children in rural and less traveled areas with new books.

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“I thought it would be a wonderful way to showcase the smaller Head Start Centers and chose Moloka’i because it really is such a special place in Hawai’i that many people can’t visit!” she says.

Zuri visited Maui, O’ahu, and the island of Hawai’i as a young child and considered flying to Moloka’i to distribute the books personally.

“I was so tempted to travel to beautiful Moloka’i to distribute the books at the keiki, but unfortunately this is my senior year in high school and I have so many college applications to complete this month .”

Fifty Nifty Head Start will select Head Start programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and distribute new Scholastic books. Zuri received the books during an appearance on Good Morning America on July 6.

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The show surprised her with a $5,000 gift from the Scholastic Possible Fund at the end of her appearance. Zuri and members of the youth-led nonprofit decided to distribute the 700 pounds of books to the “smallest and most rural areas of each state.”

Prior to receiving the Scholastic gift, the LiTEArary Society had given each Head Start child in West Virginia a new book and planned to expand the book distribution tour to all of Appalachia. LiTEArary combined Rania’s Classic Book Club, which she started in middle school, with a library she started for young immigrant girls in 9e year, after discovering book deserts across the country.

Zuri and her mother contacted MEO’s Head Start with their book donation plans in early September.

“We were surprised and very grateful for the book donation,” said Debbi Amaral, MEO’s Early Years Director. “Rania is a young woman who understands the joy and importance of reading, especially at a young age, and has that selfless spirit to help people and change lives, just like MEO’s motto.

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“What an exceptional example of a young person who cares for others and takes concrete steps to turn her care into reality to improve the lives of others.”

All 20 children in the program will receive the children’s classic, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond in 1985. Head Start provides free preschool to low-income families and works with 3- and 4-year-olds and their families to prepare their children for elementary school.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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