BB Reads: An Innovative Reading Program at B’nai B’rith Camp


Archie comic books! That’s what Debbie remembers being sent to her in care packages when she was a camper at BB Camp for four summers. These days, Debbie is the one sending the Archie Comics to her daughter, Suretta, who attended first session and her son, Efrem, who is attending second session this summer of overnight camp. Last summer, Debbie’s daughter Suretta came up with an idea for a BB Camp Book Club. Debbie, who has spent the past three years conducting literacy research for Multnomah County Library, loved the idea. In addition to providing an activity hour for book lovers like her daughter, Debbie saw this as a wonderful way for BB Camp to help campers avoid the “summer slide” in reading achievement that commonly occurs when kids don’t read enough over the summer months. Debbie serves on BB Camp’s programming committee, and she asked her fellow committee members what they thought. Not only did they like the idea for summer camp, but they found the idea especially compelling for BB Camp’s Day Camp that serves homeless and low-income children who live in the Lincoln City area. As children from low-income families have far fewer literacy experiences or books at home than their classmates, a reading program for these campers would provide critical reading achievement support that would translate into increased academic achievement and job opportunities as adults. “Knowing how many lives this program [BB Reads] will touch, I feel so grateful to [BB] Camp for implementing the BB Reads Program,” says Debbie. The program, which launched during this summer’s first session at B’nai B’rith Camp, includes two book clubs, a reading motivation program for overnight camp and a comprehensive reading program for day campers that includes day campers taking home a free book as a gift from BB Camp every Friday afternoon. “Secretly, I hope my kids like the books I chose for the Book Club!”

In addition to designing the reading programs, Debbie selected and donated multiple copies of the book club books to Camp along with other fun books for campers to checkout from the BB Camp Sifriya. “All it takes is one magical book, for a kid to fall in love with reading and become a life-long reader.” I hope other families join me in donating some of their family’s favorite books to the BB Camp Sifriya [Library].” Debbie notes that books with Jewish characters allow campers to explore their own Jewish identity. She is now in the process of developing a reading list for BB Camp families of great reads by age level.