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Blessing of the Books Inspires Children to Read

Rev. Bernard R. McIlhenny, S.J., H’98, dean of admissions emeritus at The University of Scranton, blesses the more than 2,000 children’s books donated this year through the Panuska College of Professional Studies annual “Blessing of the Books” initiative. The books, donated by University students, faculty and staff, are distributed through area organizations. In the past decade, the annual book collection has distributed more than 30,000 books to children in need.
December 4, 2017

“There are people who will say you can’t, but there are more people who will show you how. There is always a path to your dreams.” Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS) student note written on “Flight School.”

The dean of The University of Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS), Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., sees the season of giving as an opportunity to help eradicate illiteracy in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Through the “Blessing of the Books” project, which Dean Pellegrino began ten years ago, PCPS students collect books donated by members of the University community during the fall semester. PCPS freshmen students add a hand-written note to the books, which are then blessed and distributed at Christmas time through area organizations and children’s programs to promote literacy.

“Find your music and keep dancing.” PCPS student note written on “Giraffes Can’t Dance.”

Over the past decade, the college has distributed more than 30,000 children’s books.

According to Dean Pellegrino, whose academic expertise is in the area of literacy and elementary education, new books for children can make a difference for their success in reading.

“If we are going to make a difference in Pennsylvania, we need to prepare our children for life beyond school. All members of the community need to be committed to promote good literacy habits for our children. The “Blessing of the Books” project is only a small part of the greater puzzle to make a difference,” said Dean Pellegrino, who began the Blessing of the Books project at the University in 2007.

Recently, books were given to the Valley Santa project, which is a community organization staffed by 300 volunteers that provide Christmas gifts to children in need in Luzerne County. Books are also given to children for the “Reach out and Read” program, as well as various service projects throughout the region.

“Always follow your heart and you’ll end up achieving your dreams.” Panuska College of Professional Studies student note written on “In My Heart.”

Students in the University’s PCPS major in education, exercise science and sport, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, counseling and human services, health administration or human resources. 

An educational leader with K-6 teaching experience in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Missouri, Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies, offers tips to parents to teach their young children to read.

For the Blessing of the Books project, Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS) students add a hand-written note to the donated children’s books, which are then blessed and distributed at Christmas time through area organizations to children in need to promote literacy. “No matter where you come from or where you’ll go, you’ll face some bumps along the way. But, just keep pushing through and, oh, the places you will go!” PCPS student note written on “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. “Always try new thing and you might be surprised to find you love it.” PCPS student note written on “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. “Keep counting sheep and wishing on stars and your dreams will come true.” PCPS student note written on “Ten Wishing Stars.”

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