SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ - “Reading Rocks!” is the name of the Girl Scout Silver Award program designed by Katie McQuaid of Fanwood and Ciara McParland of Scotch Plains in their efforts to spread a love for reading and literacy.

As avid readers, the girls recognize how much the ability to read can affect a child’s life. After several months of collecting books and toys, the two high school freshmen reached out to communities of children who would benefit from these donations. Katie and Ciara spent a week reading to students in preschool through 4th grade at Al & Jean's Learning Center in Plainfield. They created an age appropriate library for each classroom. The week concluded with a puppet show, The Three Little Pigs, to show the children how much fun reading can be at any age. On the last day, the girls sent all 52 children home with their own book bag filled with several books. The children were given instructions on how to obtain a library card, addresses of several local libraries, and a list of the many reasons why children should read and be read to.

In all, the girls collected about 4,000 books and toys over the course of the summer. The girls also donated books and one-on-one reading time to the St. Johns Soup Kitchen in Newark, the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Central New Jersey, Genesis Healthcare-Westfield Center and the Charter School in Plainfield.

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To have a lasting impact on the community, McParland and McQuaid both plan to continue visiting and reading to their new friends at Al and Jeans and recruit other people to do the same.

McParland is a freshman at Union Catholic High School and McQuaid is a freshman at The Academy for Allied Health Sciences (UCVTS) both in Scotch Plains. Both girls have been dedicated Girl Scouts since they were Daisies in kindergarten.