Mayor Buddy's Book Club (MBBC) aims to improve youth literacy in Orlando by encouraging leisure time reading and creative expression in 4th-8th graders. The City of Orlando partners with Orange County Library System to host book clubs in community centers, schools and libraries during the after-school hours which are considered the at-risk hours for youth crime. Volunteer "Reading Coaches" lead these book clubs and make reading fun.
The completion of each book is celebrated at the Orlando Public Library in Downtown Orlando with an "End of Book Party" where students participate in arts & crafts, play games, enjoy snacks and compete in a jeopardy style game related to the book with chances to win prizes!
Studies show that "Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all", and that "...children between the ages of 10-16 who read for pleasure, make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling and maths than children who rarely read".
Since 2011, more than 3000 students have participated in MBBC and have completed more than 30 books. The first 150 students who register receive free books. Students who may not be assigned to an established book club and may follow virtually (mayor.ocls.info) are still encouraged to read the book and attend the "End of Book Party". Funders for this program have included Cities of Service, Disney, Florida Blue and KPMG.
Thanks to the "Sunshine State Author Series" hosted by the Orange County Library System, Mayor Buddy's Book Club students will have several opportunities to meet the authors of all the book selections for the 2017-18 academic year! The Sunshine State Author Series brings top-notch writers of children’s and young adult literature to Orange County for public readings, writing workshops and visits with students to spark interest in reading. Each featured writer has written a book that has been on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award or Florida Teen Reads lists.
Mayor Buddy's Book Club is one of the programs in Mayor Buddy Dyer's Cities of Service Initiative: ORLANDO CARES, connecting citizen volunteers to various mentorship opportunities. In 2010, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando was one of the first 20 cities to join the Cities of Service Coalition. Today, this coalition of Mayors and City Leads, represents more than 65 million people in 235 cities in the US and UK, who uses "Service as a Solution" to build stronger communities. ORLANDO CARES is an impact-volunteer program that addresses two of our community needs: Youth Literacy & Community Safety. For more information, visit orlandocares.net.