by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, June 2011) On Monday, May 2nd, seventeen children from the Merrick House Day Care program visited Tremont Scoops for an hour of listening to readings of children’s books and eating ice cream. The children were treated to a reading of Casper Joe by the book’s author Connie Randolph of Salinville, Ohio. Randolph read the book while Molly Carreon of Mi Casita Early Learning Center turned the pages showing the pictures created by the book’s illustrator, Kurt Jones.
The children participating in the story hour were familiar with Carreon who has participated in readings at Merrick House. One child said, “I know you. You read us Abiyoyo.” Carreon praised the child’s memory, noting she read the African folk tale as recounted by Pete Seeger to them six months ago at Merrick House.
After the reading by author Randolph, Carreon also read Abiyoyo and some additional books to the children who listened intently while eating ice cream provide by Tremont Scoops.
In addition to the ice cream treat, children were given a free autographed copy of Randolph’s book about her dog, Casper Joe, to take home. Randolph and her publisher Tate Publishing donated a book to each child that came to the ice cream shop for book readings during the week of May 2nd to May 7th. In all, 125 children from Merrick House Day Care, Tremont Montessori preschool and special needs students and kindergarten students from the North East Ohio College Preparatory School at the St. John Cantius building participated in the story hours.
The readings and book donations were part of a campaign called “Have a Heart, Share a Book.” The Tremont ice cream shop, Tremont Scoops, for the tenth year in a row is involved in this campaign which seeks donations of new and gently used books to distribute to neighborhood children who attend local public schools. The goal of the program is to provide children with books so they can start a home library. Marianne Ludwig, owner of Tremont Scoops, says over the past ten years the campaign at the ice cream shop has taken in donations of over 4,000 books for neighborhood children.
Ludwig says when she first opened her shop she wanted to do something to promote literacy. For a number of years the donations of books went to a Merrick House campaign to distribute books to children in neighborhood schools. Last year the books helped fill the collection at the Merrick House Reading Room. This year Molly Carreon is helping Ludwig to decide the age appropriateness of the books to give to children at various neighborhood schools.
As a thank you for the book donations, donors were offered a free scoop of ice cream. Ludwig estimates about 500 books were donated this year. In addition, during the week of the campaign, Tremont Scoops donated a dollar from each cup of its fairly traded coffee purchased to a fund to buy children’s dictionaries for special education students in a Cleveland elementary school.