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County Launches ‘Dutchess Reads’ Initiative
Collaboration focuses on promoting reading by overcoming barriers

Published: 5/30/2018

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie … With the school year winding down and the potential for “summer slide” over the long summer months, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announces the launch of “Dutchess Reads,” an initiative to promote reading throughout the County by overcoming barriers to literacy. “Dutchess Reads” aims to bring literacy programs which have been proven successful in various parts of Dutchess County to other, underserved communities while supporting similar programs that are offered countywide. The various Dutchess Reads opportunities can be beneficial in preventing “summer slide,” the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.

County Executive Marc Molinaro reading to childrenIn Dutchess County, approximately 11 percent of the population lacks basic literacy skills, and approximately 15.7 percent of County residents speak a language other than English in their homes. A partnership between County Executive Molinaro, County Clerk Brad Kendall, County Legislature Chair Gregg Pulver, local libraries and literacy advocates, “Dutchess Reads” focuses on three main areas: early reading, literacy for those seeking jobs and English as a second language.

County Executive Molinaro said, “The inability to read can hold a person back in so many ways – fewer educational opportunities, lack of adequate employment, failure to properly assimilate to one’s community – and ‘Dutchess Reads’ strives to eliminate the most frequent obstacles to literacy. Great literacy programs exist throughout Dutchess County, and our goal is to share those throughout the County, providing access to all. I’m grateful to our partners for their willingness to collaborate, and I look forward to building stronger readers of all ages through ‘Dutchess Reads.’ ”

In addition to a new “Dutchess Reads” webpage,, Dutchess County Government will introduce several other components of the initiative, including:

  • Born to Read – Public Health Nurses from the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health will provide new mothers with bilingual board books for their newborns, encouraging early literacy.
  • Word of the Week – Each Monday at noon, Dutchess County Government will introduce a new Word of the Week on its Twitter and Facebook platforms, inviting followers to use the word in conversation, expanding the community’s collective vocabulary.
  • Lending Libraries – In partnership with local libraries, book swaps will be established at public spaces where children and adults can take a book to read or leave a book for someone else to read. The Department of Motor Vehicles offices in the City of Poughkeepsie and Town of Wappinger have already established such book swaps, and similar book swaps will be located at DMV locations throughout the county and on Dutchess County Public Transit buses.
  • Dutchess SPCA reading program – The Dutchess County SPCA welcomes school-aged children to read to animals in their shelter – building reading confidence and proficiency in the children, while providing socialization for the animals.
  • Book Buddies expansion – Currently available in 11 schools, Literacy Connections’ successful Book Buddies program pairs mentors with schoolchildren, helping the latter gain confidence as readers. Through the Agency Partner Grant Program, Dutchess County Government will fund the expansion of Book Buddies into the Webutuck Central School District, Pawling Central School District and Dover Union Free School District. 


Legislature Chair Pulver said, “A whole world opens up for a person when they’re able to read, so expanding successful literacy programs throughout Dutchess County will benefit our community as a whole – children and families, students and teachers, job seekers and employers. I appreciate so many in our community for coming together to ensure ‘Dutchess Reads’ reaches those in need and is successful.”

County Executive Molinaro, County Clerk Kendall, Legislature Chair Pulver and other local leaders will travel around the County and host “Dutchess Reads” events, reading to classrooms and groups, encouraging them to read. Additionally, residents are encouraged to take photos of themselves reading and post those “shelfies” on social media, using the hashtags #dutchessreads and #whatareyoureading to stimulate conversation about literacy and encourage others to read.

County Clerk Kendall said, “We can all play a part in increasing literacy in Dutchess County, and engaging our friends and neighbors about reading is a great first step. Anyone of any age can benefit from ‘Dutchess Reads,’ and we encourage residents to be part of the effort – whether that’s volunteering as a Book Buddy or an English as a Second Language tutor, or simply engaging friends and loved ones in conversation about reading.”